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Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has again missed his own deadline for announcing a permanent head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) - after Justice Minister Jeff Radebe gave a public assurance the announcement would be made by the end of last month.
The SIU has been without a head for more than a year. In that time it has been plagued by internal problems, among them the controversial reinstatement of senior manager Miseria Nyathi by acting head Nomvula Mokhatla.
Nyathi, who was SIU head of business support, was fired by former-SIU boss and head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit Willie Hofmeyr for refusing to take a polygraph test to dispel a range of allegations of improper conduct. SIU employment contracts include a clause whereby personnel agree to submit to polygraph testing if so required.
Allegations levelled against Nyathi included claims she had submitted fraudulent claims for overtime.
Last week, Radebe told journalists the Justice Department had completed all its work in providing recommendations of people to fill the position to Zuma, and that the president would make his announcement by the end of February.
In August, Radebe said in a written reply to a DA parliamentary question that the appointment of a permanent head was “imminent”.
On Sunday, DA spokeswoman on justice Debbie Schafer said Nyathi was “effectively in charge of the unit” and was “engaged in a witch-hunt” after her reinstatement against anybody who was involved in the disciplinary investigation against her before she was fired by Hofmeyr.
“Astonishingly, we also believe that (Radebe) recently had a meeting with her and is considering her for the position of head of the unit,” Schafer said.
She said several resignations of senior managers during Mokhatla’s tenure was further indication that “all is not well in the SIU”.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said the matter of appointing a permanent SIU head was “receiving attention” and that the public would be informed as soon as a decision was made.