Markus Jooste. Picture: Raymond Preston/Sunday Times
Markus Jooste. Picture: Raymond Preston/Sunday Times

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste could continue living a calm life in Hermanus as there are no signs of any investigation by the Hawks into allegations that he was responsible for the irregularities that wiped more than R190bn off the market value of the global retailer.

This was the view of DA finance spokesman David Maynier after a presentation by the head of the Hawks’ commercial crimes unit, Maj-Gen Alfred Khana, on Wednesday.

The general appeared alongside other regulators and Steinhoff representatives before four parliamentary committees to provide an update of their investigation into Steinhoff.

Khana said the Hawks had been unable to proceed with investigations because no case had been laid detailing the nature of the alleged crime, the alleged perpetrator or the alleged modus operandi.

Maynier commented after Khana’s presentation: "I now know why Markus Jooste is hanging out looking very, very calm in Hermanus.

"It seems to me that the truth of the matter is that there is no investigation under way in the Hawks and, frankly, no capacity to investigate."

Jooste will appear next Wednesday under subpoena before the four committees — finance, public accounts, trade and industry, and public service and administration.

In a statement on Thursday, the committee chairs said they were concerned about the "abysmal performance of the Hawks". While they acknowledged the complexity of the investigation, the committees said it was "clear that the Hawks are doing very little beyond having meetings with no results".

"The Hawks need to be provided with the necessary capacity and the resources to conduct an effective and expeditious investigation. This could include drawing in expertise from elsewhere," the statement said.

The chairs said they would write to police minister Bheki Cele and police committee chairman Francois Beukman to urge them to ensure the Hawks investigate Steinhoff effectively.

The Hawks have also been instructed to meet with Steinhoff executives within the next two weeks and report back.

Earlier in August, Hawks boss Godfrey Lebeya conceded the Hawks had insufficient capacity to deal with some serious commercial crime cases. He told MPs the unit does not have enough staff with financial or forensic investigative skill, forcing it to engage auditing firms.

Khana said the Hawks were still waiting for a statement from Steinhoff which set out what went wrong. "There is not a shred of evidence under oath that will allow me to go to anybody to question them," he said.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za

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