Judge Willem Heath

New Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head Willem Heath has accused former president Thabo Mbeki of “initiating” rape and corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma, City Press reported on Sunday.

In an interview with the newspaper, Heath was quoted saying that convicted fraudsters, Shabir Shaik and Tony Yengeni, were “sacrificed” in the arms deal investigation and that Mbeki “dictated” to the National Prosecuting Authority in Zuma's rape trial.

He further said Judge Hilary Squires' judgment in the Shaik corruption trial was flawed as there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict him.

Mbeki's spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga told the newspaper when approached for comment that the former president was abroad and would return next week.

“His office will study the article and quotations that will be attributed to Advocate Heath and determine whether, how and when to respond,” Ratshitanga was quoted saying.

Zuma was acquitted of rape in 2006 and the corruption charges were dropped in 2009.

Heath was appointed by Zuma in the past week to replace Willie Hofmeyr as the head of SIU.

Hofmeyr now only heads the Asset Forfeiture Unit.

Heath was first appointed by former president Nelson Mandela in 1996 to establish the SIU.

He however, resigned in 2001 after the Constitutional Court found that a sitting judge could not head a long-term investigating unit.

The newspaper also reported that Mbeki, who was president at the time, refused to grant Heath an early retirement and as a result he had to resign as a judge - a decision that, according to Heath, left him a “pauper”. - Sapa