'Zuma must appoint SIU head'

Ex-Special Investigating Unit boss Willem Heath said the unit was not able to fulfill its proper role.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head Advocate Willem Heath told Eyewitness News on Tuesday that the unit was not able to fulfill its proper function because President Jacob Zuma had not yet appointed a new head seven months after he resigned.

Heath stepped down for a second time in December after he appeared to claim that former president Thabo Mbeki was responsible for Zuma being charged with rape in December 2005.

Heath was part of the SIU previously, before he first resigned in 2001.

Things turned sour between the two when Mbeki intervened to block the unit's involvement in the initial investigation of the arms deal.

Heath said an acting head did not have the same drive as a person in a permanent position.

He also said a permanent head would have been able to ask for judges to be appointed to oversee special courts where the unit could ask to attach assets and cancel contracts.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said he understood the frustration of not having a permanent head for the unit.

He said the president was in the process of finding a new head for the unit.