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Masutha: Ministers complained about Office of the State Attorney affairs

Justice Minister Michael Masutha confirmed on Tuesday that President Cyril Ramaphosa signed off a proclamation in July to investigate the Office of the State Attorney.

FILE: Justice Minister Michael Masutha. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Justice Minister Michael Masutha says he has already received complaints from his colleagues about the manner in which the Office of the State Attorney handles litigation, including exorbitant unauthorised settlements.

The minister confirmed on Tuesday that President Cyril Ramaphosa signed off a proclamation in July to investigate the Office of the State Attorney.

Among the allegations are that officials are colluding with private law firms to defraud the state of millions of rand.

Masutha says the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) probe is based on complaints he’s received from other ministers.

“This includes, non-timeous filling of court papers and litigation matters, undue and particularly exorbitant unauthorised out-of-court settlements even in instances where such matters could’ve been defended on behalf of the state.”

He says the SIU will investigate improper and unlawful conduct by the Office of the State Attorney officials, as well as the intentional or negligent loss of public money.

While the SIU says it will take about a year to complete its investigation into the State attorney’s office, it says it will initiate civil claims and criminal prosecutions as and when the evidence becomes available.

Masutha says: “This initiative is calculated to bring a halt to this alleged practice in the provision of state legal services, particularly in conducting litigation for and against the state.”

SIU’s Jan Mothibisays they won’t wait until the conclusion of their investigation to act.

“Where during the investigation we discover there’s a civil recovery that we need to make, we’ll take action on that then and there. Where there’s evidence of criminality, we also put together the evidential material and refer that for prosecution.”

He says the probe will involve State Attorney offices in all provinces.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)