Johannesburg – Former Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku shoots for the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), accusing him of abusing his powers in investigating the acquisition of personal protective equipment in the province.
It comes after the SIU on November 6 requested access to the electronic devices of one of Masuku’s witnesses and advisor, Dr Zolela Ngcwabe. Through her attorneys, Masuku wrote to the SIU, asking why she wanted access to the devices during an ongoing court case.
“We wish to record and convey to you our grave concern and our client’s disappointment at the abuse of their authority by the SIU, unprofessional, unethical and improper conduct, in particular taking into account that The SIU is an institution which is entrusted with a vast and crucial investigation powers, ”wrote his lawyer Mojalefa Motalane.
Motalane added that the SIU was abusing the proclamation to illegally solicit information “to substantiate its opposition” at its client’s request. He said the email requesting access to the devices was a fishing expedition.
“The information should have been obtained by the SIU prior to the findings contained in the letters challenged by the request. As if the above were not enough, Dr Ngcwabe was invited to attend an interview with SIU investigator Ntshengedzeni Masupa on November 10, 2020, ”he said.
Motalane added that the request to attend the interview was made on the pretext that the SIU would conduct an investigation under the proclamation. Something that wasn’t true.
“Since then, Dr Ngcwabe has informed us that the nature of the interview relates to issues addressed in our client’s application. We also received two draft confirmatory affidavits that the SIU would like Dr. Ngcwabe to sign in support of his opposition to our client’s urgent request.
“It is clear from Masupa’s draft confirmation affidavits that the SIU wants Dr. Ngcwabe to support his version in our client’s pending application,” Motalane said.
Masuku and the SIU have been at odds since the organization issued its findings regarding its role in awarding PPE contracts in the province. One of them was awarded to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesman, Khusela Diko’s husband Thandisizwe Diko.
Masuku maintained that he had done nothing wrong and it was he who alerted Prime Minister David Makhura to what was going on and called for an investigation. The SIU, however, concluded that Masuku had not been monitoring and blamed it on his feet. This led to Makhura removing him from his post.
Masuku challenges the findings and his referral to court.
Motalane said it was unusual for the SIU to seek to solicit Ngcwabe’s version now when it has already made conclusions about her involvement.
“It is therefore clear that the conclusions made by the SIU in the letters of September 18 and October 1, 2020 were made without proof or due process.
“If they had been drafted with due process, the SIU would not seek belatedly for versions of individuals they have already involved in their letters,” Motalane said.
SIU spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said he could not comment on the matter.
“Due to the sensitivity of this issue and the fact that this issue is pending, so we are not in a position to comment,” he said.
KM Avocats legal expert Koena Mpshe concurred with the assertions made by Masuku’s legal team, wondering how the SIU reached its conclusions if there was any information still pending.
“How do you publish your preliminary findings when you haven’t finalized your consultations? You move on and go on a suspension and have someone explain the challenges that are integral to what the suspended person takes to the courts.
“That does not make sense. That means the results were premature, otherwise you wouldn’t need to go interview that person, ”Mpshe said.
He added that it was strange for the SIU to want to use Masuku’s submissions to a tribunal to come to their conclusions and consolidate them.
“His legal challenge is sub judice. You may not use the content of this submission to finalize your conclusions. His submissions are responsive, meaning you have already made a statement about the possibility that he was not monitoring, meaning you have enough evidence to make the statement.
“You cannot use his submissions to come to your conclusions because it seems the conclusions were premature. You used the post facto to modify your results. “