24 April 2024 | 08:22 PM

Probe into Hofmeyr ‘an inside job’

Key Takeaways

The probe into Willie Hofmeyr, the head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), appears to have stemmed from internal disputes over transformation of the unit and later become part of a broader attack on the nation’s corruption busters.

The Mail & Guardian has established that one of the officers involved in the preliminary investigation of public protector Thuli Madonsela is also overseeing the Hofmeyr probe.

Colonel Danie Kriel, head of the Serious Economic Offences unit of the Hawks, and a Captain Ntuli are overseeing the Hofmeyr case. Kriel also signed the information note sent to the head of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit about the allegations against Madonsela, which his investigators picked up from the department of justice.

The National Health, Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) confirmed this week that one of its members employed by the unit had laid the charges against Hofmeyr.

Nehawu members of the unit have had a long-running battle with Hofmeyr over the perceived domination of white managers and investigators and the lack of black advancement. Critics say Hofmeyr is also a poor staff manager.

Referring to the corruption allegations, a unit source said: “It’s just the unions going for his throat because of broader mistrust between him and them.”

A key test of the bona fides of the investigation into Hofmeyr will be how it is handled by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). But there appears to be little evidence to back up the allegations. The same complaints, relating to a R15-million contract for renovations to the SIU building in Pretoria, were previously raised internally. These prompted the unit’s board to call in outside auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), to review the contract.

According to the SIU, “the PwC report did not find any suspicion of criminality in the process of the renovations contracts. If the report had, the SIU would have reported the matter to the SAPS itself.”

Difficult relationship

Hofmeyr, who is also a deputy national director of the NPA, is understood to have a “difficult” relationship with the NPA’s boss, Menzi Simelane, who previously raised concerns about Hofmeyr being in charge of both the SIU and the Asset Forfeiture Unit.

The NPA said this week that the case docket was with prosecutors in the director of public prosecutions’s Pretoria office and “under consideration”.

It is understood that there are other issues in the criminal complaint, relating to allegations of nepotism, the use of external consultants and the SIU’s involvement in the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) formed last year as a sub-committee of the justice, crime prevention and security cluster to co-ordinate the anti-corruption drive of law enforcement agencies and watchdog bodies.

Hofmeyr was involved in setting up the body, which will play a central role in high-profile, politically sensitive cases.

In a statement the SIU said: “Nehawu has never raised with the SIU that it believes that it is illegal for the SIU to contribute funds to the workings of the ACTT, set up by the president to deal with serious corruption cases. The ACTT consists of the Hawks, the NPA and the SIU and each party is expected to contribute to the cost of the joint team.

“We are astonished that the Nehawu member has laid a criminal charge about this, given Nehawu’s own strong stance against corruption.”

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

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Buyeleni Sibanyoni and Sam Sole

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