South Africa's Zuma names new anti-graft unit head

November 29, 2011 17:59

JOHANNESBURG - South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday named a veteran anti-corruption investigator as the head of the country's Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to strengthen the battle against crime and graft.

Zuma said in a statement that former judge Willem Heath will be the new head of the unit, an independent body reporting only to the parliament and president and one of the main anti-corruption agencies.

The appointment came just over a month after Zuma fired two cabinet ministers and suspended the national police chief in a bid to dispel criticism that he is soft on corruption.

Heath was the first head of the unit, appointed in 1996 by Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president. He resigned in 2000 after a court ruling that his appointment -- while serving as a judge -- was unconstitutional.

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