Govt officials hampering probes into COVID-19 tender fraud, SIU tells MPs

SIU head, Advocate Andy Mothibi, said that officials used to be requested for information or to make themselves available for an interview but government supply chain management officials had not been cooperating, and now the gloves were off.

FILE: SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi. Picture: @RSASIU/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said that government officials were hampering investigations into alleged COVID-19 tender fraud by failing to provide relevant documents or making themselves available to be interviewed.

This has forced the SIU to resort to issuing subpoenas to compel the errant officials to cooperate with investigators.

Parliament’s Justice committee was on Tuesday given an update by the SIU, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks on cases they were busy with, including probes into malfeasance at state attorneys’ offices and the Master’s office.

SIU head, Advocate Andy Mothibi, said that officials used to be requested for information or to make themselves available for an interview but government supply chain management officials had not been cooperating, and now the gloves were off.

"We will now no longer assume that they will cooperate, we will invoke our powers as in the SIU Act to subpoena them when they are required, either for interview or to produce certain documentation."

Parliament’s Justice committee chairperson, Bulelani Magwanishe, told the SIU that it was unacceptable for state officials not to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and that time for polite requests was over.

"That gentleman’s approach, that they (the SIU) have also in their own admission agreed that it’s not working, as part of the game-changer, we want it to go away, we cannot have officials who do not collaborate with investigations."

It’s also emerged that the Hawks have 21,000 cases to deal with but less than 2,000 investigators.

National prosecutions head, Shamila Batohi, said that the SIU, the NPA and the Hawks - the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) – were prioritising cases that could be taken forward.

She said that the NPA and the Hawks were "joined at the hip".

"The capacitation of the DPCI is critical for us to win this battle against corruption."

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