The corruption-busting Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which has been leaderless for more than a year, is haemorrhaging senior staff and is to face a court challenge over its refusal to divulge information on investigations into corruption in the Gauteng health department.
The unit has been without a leader since deputy director of public prosecutions Willie Hofmeyr was removed as its head and Nomvula Mokhatla was appointed as acting head in November 2011.
The removal of Mr Hofmeyr was greeted with widespread dismay as he was respected as a passionate opponent of corruption.
Democratic Alliance (DA) deputy justice spokeswoman Debbie Schafer said on Thursday that there had been six senior resignations at the SIU over the past year.
› No plans for mining tax hikes, says Gordhan
› Residents vow to vote ANC out of power
The latest resignation, of manager Sello Makhubela, was evidence of a "political agenda" being driven at the unit, Ms Schafer said.
The DA had learned Mr Makhubela had cited as a reason for his resignation that he could no longer deal with the politics at the unit.
"This is the sixth senior manager to resign in the period that advocate Mokhatla has been acting head," Ms Schafer said. "One resignation of a senior official every two months points to a very unhealthy state of affairs in this organisation."
Other SIU employees had been demoted, and there were "serious questions" about several of the new appointments being made.
Ms Schafer said the SIU, which was "vital" in investigating corruption, had an "absolute requirement" to be independent and free from political influence.
Attempts to reach Mr Makhubela and the SIU for comment on Thursday were unsuccessful.
The Treatment Action Campaign and Corruption Watch said yesterday they would go to court to challenge the SIU’s "refusal to provide access to any information gathered during its investigation into mismanagement and corruption" in the Gauteng health department between 2006 and 2010.
Article continues on page two...