Concerns raised over SIU probe into Eskom, Tegeta deal

Former head of the forensic laboratory at the SIU Jason Jordaan says investigators will only be able to probe what President Jacob Zuma allows.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma and Atul Gupta at an event. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Concerns have been raised about whether a probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into Eskom's controversial coal deal with Gupta-owned company Tegeta will be objective once President Jacob Zuma determines the scope of the investigation.

Earlier this month, National Treasury told Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that Eskom awarded Tegeta a R3.7 billion deal, despite indications that the mine was not up to the job.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown revealed on Tuesday that she’s asked the SIU to look into the deal as well as all Eskom procurement matters from 2007 onward.

But former head of the forensic laboratory at the SIU, Jason Jordaan, says investigators will only be able to probe what Zuma allows.

“The SIU’s scope is limited only to those instructions. It does create a conflict of interest. This issue was raised since the beginning of existence with the SIU. It’s never been a truly independent body because of the way the proclamation is set up.”

The SIU’s website describes the unit as "an independent statutory body that is accountable to Parliament and the president".

It adds that the unit was established by the president, conducts investigations at his request, and reports to him on the outcomes. It receives its budget through the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

In a statement released earlier this year, the Presidency said that the unit is the public entity with a primary mandate of recovering and preventing financial losses to the state caused by acts of corruption, fraud and maladministration. The SIU also assists departments with systemic improvements that improve service delivery.

In February, Zuma met with the head of the SIU, advocate Andy JL Mothibi, at his Mahlamba Ndlopfu residence in Pretoria. This was their first meeting since Mothibi was appointed as head of the SIU in 2016.

Zuma congratulated Mothibi and pledged government's support and cooperation to the SIU.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)