SIU fighting state corruption
The Special Investigation Unit recovered more than R20.5 million on behalf of the state in 2017
The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) is one the agencies at the forefront of South Africa's efforts to fight corruption in the public sector, recovering more than R20.5 million on behalf of the state in 2017.
Its investigations resulted in the referral of 168 matters for disciplinary action and six reports being submitted to The Presidency.The unit has also set its sights on a further R63 million that is potentially recoverable by the state.
Established in 1996, the SIU investigates the maladministration related to state institutions, assets and public money.
Deputy head of the unit, Advocate Caroline Mampuru, explained that although the President has to sign a proclamation prior to the SIU commencing with an investigation, it is the unit that recommends these cases to him.
“We receive complaints from a number of people; we investigate and analyse them until we are satisfied. A committee then looks at them and if it is satisfied, the SIU drafts a motivation for proclamation,” said Mampuru.
Once the motivation is finalised, it is sent to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and then to The Presidency for a decision.
“The President applies his mind to what has been placed before him. If he agrees that the matter should be investigated by the SIU, a proclamation is published in the Government Gazette,” she added.
Members of the public can report corruption directly to the SIU.
“We have offices in all provinces, except the Northern Cape, where officials are on hand to assist the public,” said Mampuru.
Members of the public wishing to remain anonymous can report corruption via email.
“We look at the allegations and what information is already out there. After analysis, if we believe that the matter can be investigated and if we have a mandate, we proceed with the case,” she explained.
While some critics argue that the discretionary powers of the President over the SIU's investigation process could open the unit to abuse and political manipulation, Mampuru said this is not the case.
“From experience, most of the matters that we have sent to the President for proclamation are accepted. Remember, the motivation would have sufficient grounds so there would be very few instances when the SIU's request is declined. In fact, I do not know of any,” she pointed out.
Catalyst for fighting corruption
The SIU's interim results for 2017 indicate that the unit continues to be a catalyst for fighting corruption.
Recently the unit received nine new proclamations enabling it to investigate matters in relation to fraud at the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development and corruption and maladministration at the Thabazimbi Local Municipality in Limpopo and the Gauteng Department of Health.
Mampuru's role is to make sure that the unit's operations, within eight divisions across the country, are efficient for it to carry out its mandate.
“I find fulfilment when government resources are used for what they are intended. When government spends money and the life of an ordinary citizen is improved, I am gratified. That's what government is about. When we have corruption taking place, it takes away what we should be doing for citizens,” she said.
“My role is to make sure that the process of taking decisions is effective, making sure that there is accountability and timelines. I make sure that the decisions around the matters we will and will not investigate are taken in a transparent and constituent manner,” she added.
A good day for Mampuru is seeing a team of investigators working hard to save the South African government billions that otherwise would have been misused.
Deputy head of the Special Investigation Unit, Advocate CarolineMampuru.