Special investigative unit accused of email hacking

The Democratic Alliance has accused the executive committee of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) of hacking the emails of its own staff to prevent any further scandal at the state anti-corruption body.

DA shadow deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, Debbie Schafer MP said in a statement:

“As the President continues to ignore calls to appoint a permanent head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which is now in its fifteenth month of not having a permanent head, we have now learnt that the current executive committee is so desperate to avoid further scandal in the unit that it called in the head of IT last Friday and asked him to hack the private email accounts of all the members of the Special Investigating Unit.

“Apart from the fact that this is illegal, it shows just how desperate the situation at the SIU has become. If the President was really concerned about the integrity of the SIU, he would have ensured that a fit and proper person was appointed as a permanent head at the beginning of last year.”

In December 2011, President Jacob Zuma appointed deputy national director of public prosecutions, advocate Nomvula Mokhatla, to act as the head of the SIU, with a permanent head expected to be appointed by the end of February.

Zuma replaced the previous acting head, Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, after less than a week in the job in 2011 with no reasons given for the sudden change.

The SIU’s mandate is to investigate fraud, corruption and maladministration, and to institute civil litigation to recover losses suffered by the state, or prevent further losses.

According to the Mail and Guardian, central to the SIU’s problems is the reinstatement of the unit’s business support head, Miseria Nyathi, following her dismissal for refusing to undergo a lie-detector test. Nyathi had been charged with submitting false overtime bonus claims.

And while Nyathi denied the charge, the DA claimed that Nyathi was being considered for the unit’s top job.

The DA said that if the acting head, Advocate Nomvula Mokhatla, was really concerned about the integrity of the SIU, she would have done the following:

  • Not reinstated Miseria Nyathi against two legal opinions;
  • not allowed Ms Nyathi to act in several positions, including as acting head of the Internal Integrity Unit, which has allowed her to take control of her own disciplinary matter;
  • not allowed the ongoing campaign of victimisation of individuals involved in the disciplinary investigation of Ms Nyathi before she was fired by previous head, Willie Hofmeyr; and
  • concentrated on ensuring that the best and most experienced staff are retained at the SIU, instead of driving them out.

For the SIU, which is supposed to be investigating illegal activity, to request such illegal action, shows dire indeed, the opposition party said.

Schafer noted that the President will be requested in Parliament next week to advise on the status of the appointment of a permanent SIU Head and National Director of Public Prosecutions. “We sincerely trust that he will come prepared to give satisfactory answers to the people of South Africa,” she said.

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Special investigative unit accused of email hacking