The Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) special tribunal’s inaugural case will be heard on Tuesday morning at the Booysens Magistrate’s Court in the form of an urgent preservation order application against former head of the Office of the State Attorney Kgosi Lekabe.
The tribunal is seeking an order that would prevent the release of Lekabe’s pension funds by the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), pending the finalisation of proceedings against him.
The matter relates to investigations into irregularities at the state attorney’s office, which saw Lekabe accused of collusion.
“The matter stems from an investigation by the SIU into several allegations of irregularities within the office of the state attorney, estimated at R34m,” said tribunal spokesperson Selby Makgotho.
In July 2018, the minister of police approached the high court in Johannesburg to halt the execution of a judgment that ordered the ministry to pay more than R34 million for the alleged wrongful arrest, detention and shooting of a citizen.
Lekabe, as well as advocate Hassan Kajee, conceded the liability of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the R34 million claim, although the police said it had given express instructions to defend the claim.
The court found in favour of the SAPS’s application to stop the payment and questioned why Lekabe and Kajee had not responded to the allegations.
Both Lekabe and Kajee were suspended and investigated for collusion following the incident, with Lekabe subsequently resigning from his position.
The tribunal was established by President Cyril Ramaphosa in February last year, after an announcement to that effect in his state of the nation address.
In September, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola gazetted the regulations for the SIU’s special tribunal. These regulations came into effect upon their publication in the Government Gazette.
The value of cases ready for adjudication and recovery stands at R14.7 billion.
Makgotho said the tribunal was concerned with “cases mainly related to malpractices and irregular/fraudulent awarding of contracts, as well as to seek suspension and interlocutory orders as well as interdicts”, and also has a mandate to recover public funds siphoned from the fiscus through fraud and illicit money flows.
He said that the president of the tribunal, Judge Gidfonia Mlindelwa Makhanya, had met with its members and “expressed the need to move with the required speed on the work, especially because it has only three years in which to operate and finalise its work”.
Makhanya will chair the tribunal for three years and is assisted by seven other judges.
They are judges Icantharuby Pillay, Johannes Eksteen, Selewe Peter Mothle, Lebogang Modiba, Thina Siwendu, David van Zyl, and Sirajudien Desai.
“There is an undeniable evidence indeed that the majority of the people in this country are sick and tired of [corruption], and demand justice to prevail,” Makhanya said.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, ANA)