Markus Jooste Picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)
Markus Jooste Picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

Cosatu adds voice to call for action on #Steinhoff

By SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI Time of article published Mar 20, 2019

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Johannesburg - Cosatu has joined MPs in slamming the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks for failing to rein in those who were responsible for the fraud at retail giant Steinhoff.

On Tuesday, MPs said the collapse of Steinhoff was a result of a few senior executives, and they were surprised the Hawks and NPA had been slow in prosecuting those involved.

Steinhoff chief executive Louis du Preez named several former executives as being linked to the scandal, after PwC released its forensic report last Friday.

Markus Jooste, the former chief executive, was named in the PwC report as one of those who inflated prices and assets of the company by more than R100billion.

Cosatu said it wanted Jooste’s assets seized and the law enforcement agencies to recover stolen monies. “Cosatu calls for decisive action from the Hawks and the NPA. The federation calls upon Parliament to increase their oversight of the Steinhoff debacle investigation and prosecutions,” it said.

ANC MP Dikeledi Mahlangu said the party was disappointed that no one had been arrested or prosecuted, despite billions of rand being lost.

“To us as public representatives, this does not give us comfort. Don’t be surprised, Hawks and NPA, we are fighting you because you are chasing a shadow. We seem to be toothless, and it is very disappointing,” Mahlangu said.

The chairperson of the standing committee on public accounts, Themba Godi, said this was about getting people to account for their actions.

“One should understand that the call on law enforcement agencies is that there is accountability, and that people are taken to task for their actions. Our concern is with all law enforcement agencies,” said Godi.

The chairperson of the portfolio committee on public service and administration, Joe Maswanganyi, said it wanted action taken by the Hawks and the NPA.

“The law enforcement agencies must act, otherwise people will start losing confidence in us. We have the case of VBS Mutual Bank, people are walking freely. Two union leaders have been killed for raising the VBS issue. There must be action on VBS and Steinhoff, where the money of the ­people has been lost,” said Maswanganyi.

The head of the Hawks, Godfrey Lebeya, said it had not disclosed some of the information the unit had gathered to MPs because of the sensitivity involved.

“Most of the matters are evidential in nature, and it won’t be proper to present it in public,” said Lebeya.

He said they were on the verge of arresting one person involved in the Steinhoff scandal when PwC released its 3000-page report last Friday. That has now expanded their work as they were looking at more people.

The acting head of the Special Commercial Crimes Unit in the NPA, advocate Mpho Doubada, said it could not begin prosecution until the Hawks had concluded their investigations.

He said another delaying factor was the complexity in nature of the cases, as Steinhoff operated in several countries.

Political Bureau

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