Cosatu: SIU appointment is urgent

The position has been left open for over 18 months.

President Jacob Zuma answers questions in parliament. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has urged President Jacob Zuma to treat the appointment of a new head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) as a matter of urgency.

Last week, Durban Advocate Guido Penzhorn confirmed he had been offered the post, but said he had heard nothing from the Justice Ministry since accepting the offer in February.

The position has been left open for over 18 months.

The Presidency said the position was still being processed but didn't explain the reasons for the delay.

Cosatu's Patrick Craven stressed the importance of the position to the country's justice system.

"We hope this will be rectified as quickly as possible and that we will be able to step the fight against crime and corruption up a notch in order to make a real impact."

Penzhorn said he didn't know why he hadn't heard back from the Justice Ministry but wished whoever did get the job good luck.

During his State of the Nation Address in February, Zuma said it was urgent to make appointments to the upper echelons of the justice system.

Meanwhile, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), a constitutional lobby group, said it was inexplicable that Penzhorn was offered the post and then not appointed.

Casac's Lawson Naidoo said it wasn't just the top position in the SIU that was vacant.

"We know also that a number of other senior staff have left the SIU in the last few months."

Naidoo said the longer the SIU was without a head the weaker it would become.

"This has weakened the capacity of what was once the most effective anti-corruption agency in the country."