Bloomberg News

South African Anti-Corruption Chief Faces Graft Probe

July 19, 2011

(Corrects spelling of spokesman’s name in second paragraph of story originally published on July 18.)

July 18 (Bloomberg) -- The head of a South African anti- corruption unit denied allegations of wrongdoing after prosecutors disclosed he was being investigated for graft.

Police opened a case against Special Investigative Unit head Willie Hofmeyer after Dave King, the chairman of investment company Micromega Holdings Ltd., alleged he acted illegally in a dispute over unpaid taxes, National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga told the South African Press Association yesterday.

“If I had believed that I had done anything wrong, I would have offered to resign my position, or asked to be placed on suspension pending a resolution of the matter,” Hofmeyer said in an e-mailed statement today. “I strongly believed that there was no substance in the complaint” and supported an external investigation being conducted by the police.

The probe is the latest of a series of allegations and counter-allegations leveled against the heads of South Africa’s rival law-enforcement agencies, resulting in them simultaneously investigating each other.

Police are also looking into allegations that funds were misappropriated and procurement procedures flaunted when a tender was awarded to refurbish the Special Investigative Unit’s offices in Pretoria, prosecutors said on July 11. Hofmeyer also denied those allegations.

Mhaga did not immediately answer calls to his mobile phone seeking comment.

Cele Investigation

On July 6, Independent Newspapers reported that police were also considering laying graft charges against corruption ombudsman Thuli Madonsela. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa denied the report.

Madonsela and Hofmeyer have been investigating whether police Commissioner Bheki Cele and other security officials violated government rules when they secured leases for two office buildings costing at least three times the market rate.

In a report released on July 14, Madonsela urged President Jacob Zuma to take action against Cele, saying he was guilty of “unlawful and improper conduct.” Zuma’s office said he is studying the report and will comment in due course.

Cele has denied any wrongdoing.

--Editors: Philip Sanders, Karl Maier

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.


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