Zuma appoints new SIU acting head

President Jacob Zuma has appointed deputy national director of public prosecutions, advocate Nomvula Mokhatla, to act as the head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the presidency said on Wednesday.

“She takes over from Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, the deputy national director of public prosecutions, who has been acting in this position since the announcement of the resignation of Advocate Willem Heath last week,” the presidency said in a statement.

Zuma appointed Heath in November and within days he gave an interview to City Press newspaper in which he accused former president Thabo Mbeki of orchestrating rape and corruption charges against Zuma.

Mbeki has denied the allegations and challenged Heath to produce proof. Heath has not done so, and instead resigned as SIU chief last week after various quarters questioned his suitability for the job.

In a statement to the Witness newspaper in Durban, Heath later said: “The events of the past two weeks have created the impression that I am unable to head the SIU independently.

“Correct or not, the initial media coverage of an interview in which I participated left the impression that I made unqualified statements of political events which may be unbecoming of the head of the SIU,” he had said.

Mokhatla has served in the litigation unit of the department of justice and prior to that practised as an advocate at the Pretoria and Johannesburg Bars.

Jiba’s earlier appointment as acting head of the SIU was also questioned. It has been reported that Jiba was suspended from the National Prosecuting Authority after her alleged involvement in a police investigation into senior prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj has maintained Mokhatla ascension was “above board”.

“This is a temporary appointment as was Jiba’s. Nothing stops the president from making appointments that are temporary. The longer term solution to the position will be sought once all due process is followed,” Maharaj told the Mail & Guardian.—Sapa

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