What happened to Denel’s internal forensic investigations?


Five months ago the then Denel chief executive indicated police were in possession of statements supporting internal corruption and state capture forensic investigations at the defence and technology conglomerate. It appears there’s been no action and the Democratic Alliance (DA) wants the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) involved.

The unit is, according to national government, “the State’s preferred and trusted forensic investigation and litigation agency”.

The call for Advocate Andy Mothibi’s unit to put Denel forensic reports under its investigative microscope comes from Michele Clarke, shadow deputy public enterprises minister.

The reports were reportedly handed to police for investigation. In September last year then Denel chief executive Danie du Toit confirmed to Parliament’s Public Enterprises Portfolio Committee that statements made after forensic investigations were with the police.

Statements have been handed to the South African Police Service and the SIU to support investigations into alleged criminal matters. Internal disciplinary hearings have been concluded and others are ongoing, a Denel statement issued at the time said.

The DA parliamentarian wants Denel and “other poor performing SOE’s (State-owned enterprises)” to account to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA). “Denel must also account to the parliamentary portfolio committee on public enterprises,” she said.

One reason for this is the delayed release of the Denel annual report for 2019/20 “months after it was supposed to be tabled”. She also points out Denel has not yet held an annual general meeting, supposed to take place at the latest 15 months after the previous one on 15 September 2019. Denel applied to the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission for an extension to its annual general meeting. This was granted and the beleaguered Irene, Centurion-headquartered conglomerate now has until 31 March to hold the meeting.

Clarke maintains these are indicators of an organisation lacking “the ability to ensure it manages its affairs with no production activity, liquidity constraints and poor programme execution the order of the day”.

To strengthen her argument, she pointed to the Zondo Commission, which recently heard Parliament accused of “being a rubber stamp that aided and abetted state capture”.

“Both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan made numerous promises to reform SOEs – no such plan has materialised. In fact, their insistence on bailing out failing SOEs put the country in dire financial straits and can be directly linked to the economic implosion South Africa is experiencing at present.

“SOEs are the shovels being used to dig the country’s grave. This is a truth that can no longer be denied or ignored,” Clarke said.