The head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said it was saddled with almost R500 million in debt because government departments and entities weren’t paying up for work done.
Advocate Andy Mothibi has told Parliament’s justice committee the outstanding debt could pose a risk to the unit’s functioning if it was not addressed soon.
Despite efforts to recoup the money, the debt has ballooned, with the SIU saying this made it impossible for some critical investigators’ posts to be filled.
Mothibi said while the unit’s finances were in good shape, the money it was owed was a worry.
“As the auditors have said, we are growing concerns. But if this debt is not addressed, we are going to become a real risk.”
Just seven years ago, the SIU was owed R34 million for its services. But that has grown, at an average rate of 26% a year, to just under R500 million.
Mothibi said the SIU’s funding model, where it got 55% from the government and must make up the rest from what it invoiced, was unsustainable over the long term.
He said if the debt was paid up, the SIU would be able to employ more much-needed investigators.
SIU chief financial officer Andre Gernandt said in most cases, departments and entities did not budget for SIU investigations into corruption and maladministration. He said the debt would not be written off.
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