Masuku guns for SIU, accuses it of abusing its power in ongoing PPE probe
Johannesburg - Former Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku is gunning for the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), accusing it of abusing its powers in the investigations of the procurement of personal protective equipment in the province.
This comes after the SIU on November 6 requested access to the electronic devices of one of Masuku’s witnesses and adviser, Dr Zolela Ngcwabe. Through his lawyers, Masuku has addressed a letter to the SIU, questioning why it wanted access to the devices during an ongoing court case.
“We wish to record and convey to yourselves, grave concern and our client’s disappointment at the SIU’s misuse of its authority, unprofessional, unethical and unbecoming conduct, particularly taking into account the fact that the SIU is an institution that is entrusted with crucial wide investigative powers,” his lawyer Mojalefa Motalane wrote.
Motalane added that the SIU was misusing the proclamation to unlawfully solicit information “to buttress its opposition” to his client’s application. He said the email requesting access to the devices was a fishing expedition.
“The information ought to have been procured by the SIU prior to the findings contained in the letters impugned by the application. As if the aforegoing was not enough, Dr Ngcwabe was requested to attend an interview with SIU investigator Ntshengedzeni Masupa on 10 November 2020,” he said.
Motalane added that the request to attend the interview was made under the pretext of the SIU conducting an investigation in terms of the proclamation. Something which was allegedly not true.
“We have since been advised by Dr Ngcwabe that the nature of the interview pertained to matters canvassed in our client’s application. We have also been furnished with two draft confirmatory draft affidavits that the SIU wants Dr Ngcwabe to sign in support of its opposition of our client’s urgent application.
“It’s clear from the draft confirmatory affidavits from Masupa that the SIU wants Dr Ngcwabe to support its version in our client’s pending application,” Motalane said.
Masuku and the SIU have been at loggerheads since the organisation handed its findings regarding his role in the awarding of PPE contracts in the province. One of which was awarded to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko’s husband Thandisizwe Diko.
Masuku has maintained that he did nothing wrong and was the one who alerted premier David Makhura to what was happening and called for an investigation. The SIU, however, found that Masuku failed to exercise oversight and put the blame on his feet. That resulted in Makhura removing him from his position.
Masuku is challenging the findings and his removal in court.
Motalane said it was unusual that the SIU would be seeking to solicit Ngcwabe’s version now when it has already made findings of her involvement.
“It is, therefore, clear that the findings made by the SIU in the letters of the 18th of September and 1st of October 2020 were made without evidence or adherence to due process.
“If they had been made with adherence to due process the SIU would not seek to belatedly get versions from individuals that they have already implicated in their letters,” said Motalane.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said it can’t comment on the matter.
“Due to the sensitivity of this matter and the fact that this matter is sub judice, we are, therefore, unable to comment,” he said.
Legal expert Koena Mpshe of KM Attorneys agreed with the assertions advanced by Masuku’s legal team, questioning how the SIU arrived at its findings if there was still outstanding information.
“How do you release your preliminary findings when you have not finalised your consultations? You move on and effect a suspension and you go on to request someone to explain the challenges that are part and parcel of what the suspended individual is putting before the courts.
“That doesn’t make sense. It means the findings were premature, otherwise, there wouldn’t be a need for you to go and interview this person,” Mpshe said.
He added that it was strange for the SIU to want to use Masuku’s submissions to a court of law to arrive at their findings and to solidify them.
“His court challenge is sub judice. You can’t use the contents of that submission to finalise your findings. His submissions are reactive, meaning you have already made a pronouncement on the possibility of him not having exercised oversight, meaning you have enough evidence to make the pronouncement.
“You can’t use his submissions to arrive at your findings because it looks like the findings were premature. You used post facto to affect your findings.”