State corruption’s catcher in the shy
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) hardly gets media headlines, but it has maintained a reputation of getting the job done. This echoes the traits of its reserved new head, Advocate Andy Mothibi, who took over its reins last year.
If Mothibi had his way, the unit would focus on silently delivering blows to criminals within state institutions in its relentless fight against fraud and corruption, without attracting the attention of the media. City Press spent months trying to secure an interview with him.
He agreed to discuss the successes of the unit because it strengthens its strategy of effectively ending the problem of unscrupulous civil servants and suppliers overcharging government departments and getting away with it.
He wants his tenure to be defined by his efforts to protect government from corrupt suppliers who have turned the state into a cash cow. Last year, the unit recovered R52 million that was paid back to the state following the implementation of final forfeiture orders.
The unit has also referred more than 300 cases to the National Prosecuting Authority’s asset forfeiture unit in a bid to recover nearly R7 billion stolen from state coffers in previous months through corrupt deals.
“Through SIU interventions, contracts valued at R717 million were set aside and, as a result, we were able to stop payments valued at R310 million from being made by the state. We remain determined to fight corruption rigorously and impartially,” he said.
Mothibi, whose unit reports directly to President Jacob Zuma, said the corruption-busting unit had and would investigate cases regardless of political background, status and position of the persons involved. A lawyer by profession, Mothibi said his office has been capacitated to swiftly deal with proclamations and it has implemented a system where turnaround times will be improved.
He said the country’s improvement – although slight – in corruption index ratings last year was good news, but “a lot more can still to be done”.
He said the unit was about to conclude an investigation into fraudulently obtained licences. “We are working on implementing the outcomes on this investigation, which will see a number of these fraudulently obtained licences being cancelled,” he said.
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CORRUPTION BUSTER Head of the Special Investigating Unit Advocate Andy Mothibi