Thursday, 10 December 2020

Pretoria: The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has lauded the establishment of the Special Tribunal as a game changer and effective tool in the fight against corruption in South Africa.

This comes as the world commemorated International Anti-Corruption Day on Wednesday.

The SIU said the setting up and subsequent operation of the Special Tribunal in 2019 has made it possible for it to expedite recovery of State monies and State assets lost through negligent and corrupt means.

The Special Tribunal adjudicates on matters that the SIU institutes for civil litigation relief following the conclusion of investigations.

“The SIU no longer has to queue at high courts with other litigants and experience delays, which may make recovery of stolen money more difficult as culprits may have enough time to hide or dissipate the money and assets,” said the SIU in a statement.

Through the Special Tribunal, the SIU can now quickly recover monies and assets lost by state institutions through irregular and corrupt means as compared to high courts; and hold those responsible for the loss accountable.

The SIU can also request relief in the form of preventing further losses to the state.

Successes

To date, the SIU has instituted 46 civil matters in the Special Tribunal to the value of R6.9 billion as compared to 50 civil matters in the ordinary courts with a current value of R9 billion.

Some of the civil matters in normal courts date back to 2008. The number of cases at the Special Tribunal includes 11 civil matters to the value of R259 million, which are related to supply and delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) as part of government’s response to COVID-19.

Among the latest rulings by the Special Tribunal include the declaration of R18 million assets belonging to former Transnet executive Herbert Msagala being forfeited to the State. The assets include 35 luxury vehicles, five properties which includes two farms and houses in gated estate.

“The Special Tribunal interdicted the Transnet Pension Fund not to pay out the pension of Mr. Msagala until the conclusion of the action proceedings against Mr. Msagala in the Tribunal for recovery of secret profits made at the expense of Transnet.”

Another case saw the Tribunal grant the SIU an interim order to freeze the accounts of Alinani Trading (PTY) LTD, a company involved the supply and delivery of PPE items to the Eastern Cape Department of Education.

In the case, the Tribunal further interdicted and restrained the Department of Education from making any payments due to the company and individuals related to the company, of which one is a senior manager in the Department.

The third case said the SIU, granted an order restraining and interdicting both the Government Employee Pension Fund and the Government Pensions Administration Agency from paying out R2 million pension benefits to former North West Department of Health’s Head of Department (HOD) Dr. Andrew Lekalakala.

This was after the SIU approached the Special Tribunal for an order authorising the halting of the Dr. Lekalakala’s pension benefits, pending the outcome of its investigations into several allegations of financial irregularities, estimated at about R30 million, which occurred during his tenure as HOD.

The SIU has also been granted an interim order freezing R38.7 million held in several bank accounts of 40 Gauteng-based contractors involved in the supply and delivery of COVID-19 PPE.

Additionally, the Special Tribunal granted the SIU permission to institute civil proceedings against two contractors, Caledon River Properties (Pty) Ltd and Profteam CC.

The two contractors were allegedly paid R21.8 million before work could start by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure for the construction of the 40 kilometre borderline fence at the Beit Bridge Border post in Limpopo.

In the statement, the SIU called on the public to partner with the unit in its fight against corruption so the country can recover the monies that are stolen for use in the changing lives.

Fraud and corruption allegations may be reported via the following platforms: siu@whistleblowing.co.za and on the hotline:  0800 037 774.