Give me Mdluli docket, Hawks boss tells cop

2015-01-29 10:09

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The acting head of the Hawks, Benny Ntlemeza, has ordered the investigating officer in a perjury case involving three of South Africa’s most senior prosecutors to personally deliver the case docket to his office.

City Press’ sister newspaper Beeld today reported that this order was given hours after investigating officer Theunis de Klerk on Tuesday took warning statements in the perjury case involving advocates Nomgcobo Jiba, Lawrence Mrwebi and Sibongile Mzinyathi.

A warning statement is one of the final stages of a criminal investigation and allows an accused to give their version of the story to the investigating officer, if they choose to do so.

The perjury case relates to statements the three senior prosecutors made under oath, as well as their alleged conduct, in the decision to drop corruption charges against suspended crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

It has sparked renewed concerns about meddling in the top ranks of the Hawks since Anwa Dramat, the head of the Hawks, was suspended by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko last month.

Four independent Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) sources who are familiar with the investigation have confirmed to City Press that the investigating officer was given an instruction to hand the perjury docket to Ntlemeza.

Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesperson for the Hawks, has denied that Ntlemeza gave such an instruction.

Jiba is a deputy director of national prosecutions and the former acting head of the NPA, Mrwebi is the head of the specialised commercial crimes unit and Mzinyathi is the prosecutions boss for North Gauteng

Ntlemeza is well known for the support he gave to Mdluli in 2010, when he authored a report that exonerated the crime intelligence boss.

Mdluli would later use this report to argue that there was a conspiracy against him.

A senior justice source close to the investigation said that “if [the docket] goes to him [Ntlemeza] he could shelve it and that’s the end of it.

“The only inference that can be drawn is that [Ntlemeza] does not want the investigating officer to continue with the matter. I almost fell off my chair when I was told about this.”

City Press also understands that the case could lead to a potential stand-off between the NPA and the Hawks.

An NPA source told City Press that the docket had already been handed over to prosecutors when De Klerk was ordered to take the docket to Ntlemeza.

According to the source, the prosecutors assigned to the case have now asked for guidance from their superiors. It was unclear whether the docket had actually been handed over to Ntlemeza.

Another senior NPA source confirmed the story but said that it was not necessarily a “bad thing” that Ntlemeza had asked for the docket.

“If I was in his position I probably would have done the same thing … we’ll have to wait and see.

“It could be a very bad thing, though.”

Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, said there may be a “suspicion of undue influence in [Ntlemeza’s call for the docket]”.

“If the instruction has indeed come from (Ntlemeza), an acting head of prosecutions, it would appear to be heavy handed approach.

“The spectrum of [Ntlemeza’s] actions since he was appointed acting head suggests that he is meddling in particular investigations within the Hawks.”

Naidoo was referring to previous media reports that revealed Ntlemeza has requested dockets in some of the Hawks’ most high-profile investigations and that he is busy with restructuring the unit.

Ntlemeza’s appointment will be challenged in the Constitutional Court next week, when the Helen Suzman Foundation will ask for an urgent order to enforce a previous high court judgment in which Dramat’s suspension was overturned.

De Klerk, the investigating officer, could not be reached for comment.

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