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Monday, 14 August 2023 17:30

SIU to appeal the court ruling blocking probe into Telkom.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has filed for leave to appeal a high court judgment in favour of Telkom that set aside a proclamation that required the unit to probe various dealing at the Telecommunications group.

Last month, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that the SIU's probe into the telecommunications group was invalid and "of no force or effect".

The court also set aside President Cyril Ramaphosa's proclamation from early 2022 that authorised the investigation. 

In her ruling, Judge Vuyelwa Tlhapi found that Telkom was not a state institution and that the president's proclamation was "overboard". 

But after consulting with its legal team, the SIU said on Monday: "There is reason for an appeal. The court needs to give a fuller picture of what constitutes a state institution as this can set a legal precedent over which institutions the SIU can exercise its powers.

"It is important that the issue of a 'state institution' must be decided and settled. If this is not clarified, it may create an unwelcome precedent that some public institutions may inadvertently be shielded from investigation by the SIU," the unit said.

Ramaphosa's proclamation ordered the SIU to probe various dealings that took place at Telkom going as far back as June 2006, among them an aborted foray into Nigeria that is estimated to have cost the company more than R10-billion.

The president directed the specialised anti-corruption agency to investigate "serious maladministration in connection with the affairs of Telkom" as well as improper or unlawful conduct by employees or agents of the company. Among other things, the SIU was to investigate the unlawful appropriation of expenditure of public money.

However, Telkom at the time said it had on numerous occasions reported on the dealings the investigation is interested in, adding that some of these have been ventilated in various courts.

Telkom Group CEO Serame Taukobong said, approaching the courts, Telkom confirmed its commitment to good governance.

"Telkom approached the courts because it is of the view that left unchallenged, the proclamation would set a dangerous precedence on the role of the State in private enterprise.

Telkom consistently upholds the principles of good corporate governance. It is unfortunate that Telkom needed to approach the courts on this matter and we hope that this judgment brings it to finality," Taukobong concluded.