Hawks call on news agency to apologise for report

2017-07-11 20:39
The Hawks head offices. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Beeld)

The Hawks head offices. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Beeld)

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Johannesburg – The Hawks have condemned a national news report that named one of its high ranking officers in relation to a burglary at the Pretoria office of the National Prosecuting Authority(NPA), a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Eyewitness News reported that the offices were burgled and two laptops were stolen. They said the laptops belonged to prosecutors that were handling the case in which controversial Hawks Brigadier Nyameka Xaba is a suspect.

The report highlighted that Xaba and several other Hawks officials are accused of taking South African Revenue Services (SARS) employee Vlok Symington hostage at his workplace last year.

It also said that Xaba met with the two advocates handling the Symington case.

“For the record, Brigadier Xaba who is currently on leave is not the investigator into the Symington matter and has never met the prosecutor handling the case. Brigadier Xaba and his team members recently honoured an invitation from a prosecutor at the NPA offices to deliberate on an unrelated case as opposed to what Eyewitness News has reported,” Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said in a statement.

He said the Hawks were shocked at the report and found it concerning.

“The Eyewitness report is baseless and such accusations should never have been given so much credence. It is clear that the report is an attempt to damage Brigadier Xaba's personal reputation based on uncorroborated facts.”

Mulaudzi called on Eyewitness News to “retract the defamatory report which is entirely based on false allegations and deliberately intended to ridicule both the [Hawks] and Brigadier Xaba in the country”.

Mulaudzi said Xaba was in discussion with his lawyers regarding the report.

EWN said in a statement that it rejected the Hawks' claims relating to its story. 

"In a statement issued this afternoon, the DPCI [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation] accuses EWN of reporting that 'Brigadier Nyameka Xaba is suspected to have orchestrated the NPA incident'.

"EWN at no stage said or suggested that Brigadier Xaba was 'allegedly involved in' or 'orchestrated' the burglary. Thus, we strongly reject the claim as it is not based on the information contained in our news report."  

It said the Hawks stated that Brigadier Xaba is 'not the investigator into the Symington matter'.

"Nowhere in our story did we claim that he was the investigator in this matter; rather, we reported that he is in fact a suspect in the Symington investigation,"  EWN said. 

It said it also rejected the Hawks' allegation that its news report was baseless. 

"We also find no basis for such a statement to have been issued considering that the allegations were in fact never reported by us. 

"EWN has requested that the DPCI issue a clarification or retraction of its statement that clarifies the above issues." 

The burglary on Monday follows a break-in at the Hawks headquarters in Pretoria last week‚ when thieves stole hard drives and computers that contained personal staff information.

The information was at the centre of a high-level anti-corruption investigation into staff appointments made by former Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza. He was fired by Police Minister Fikile Mbalula earlier this year.

In March, 15 computers which contained sensitive information about the country's judges were stolen from the office of the chief justice in Midrand. Three men who were arrested for the crime were granted R1 000 bail.

*This story has been updated to include comments from a statement issued by EWN


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