Hawks keeping an eye on Zondo commission revelations

2019-03-06 21:56
Godfrey Lebeya head of the Hawks. (File, Netwerk24)

Godfrey Lebeya head of the Hawks. (File, Netwerk24)

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The Hawks will use whatever relevant information the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture reveals while treading cautiously so as to not disrupt the process, Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya told the Portfolio Committee on Police on Wednesday.

He said the Hawks had a colonel with a watching brief present at the commission.

"Wherever there is information that can assist an investigation, we'll be dealing with that," Lebeya said.

He said the directorate would always engage with National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi first.

"We don't want to disturb what is happening.

"Where a crime has been committed, there will always be a reaction. But we are aware that there are processes underway that you don't want to disturb."

Gupta-linked cases investigated

Last week, in answer to a parliamentary question, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he would wait for the report from the commission before taking action against any Cabinet ministers.

However, he added: "Nothing prevents the relevant authorities within the criminal justice system from investigating allegations of impropriety by ministers or any other persons. In any such instances, legal processes must be allowed to be concluded with due regard for the rule of law."

The Hawks are investigating several cases related to alleged Gupta-led state capture.

They are also investigating facilities management company Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations. In fact, the docket was opened in 2010. Lebeya said the Hawks arrested six suspects aged between 50 and 78 on February 6 on allegations of corruption, money laundering and fraud. 

"The sweeping high-profile arrests follow a marathon investigation wherein almost R1.6bn is said to have been misappropriated in the tender processes for the procurement of various services by the Department of Correctional Services.

"It is alleged that the officials received and accepted gifts in the form of cash, they also allegedly received financial assistance in acquiring properties, acquiring motor vehicles from dealers, other assets and payments to travel agents for overseas travel.

Need for specialised units highlighted

The six suspects will appear in court again on March 27.

"One suspect has not yet been arrested as he is out of the country. Extradition process with the United States of America will be initiated, soon. We expect that he will be arrested to come and join the others," Lebeya said.

The Hawks took 610 statements for the case. 

According to a statement by committee chairperson Francois Beukman, the committee welcomed the progress made by the Hawks in fighting priority crimes but emphasised the importance of fighting corruption. 

"The Zondo commission has proven invaluable in providing information that the Hawks can use in the investigation and prosecution of crimes of corruption," said Beukman. 

To achieve this, the committee called for skills enhancement within the commercial crimes section to strengthen the ability of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) to investigate and deliver prosecutable cases.     

The committee also called for the establishment and finalisation of the structure of a fully-fledged national bureau for illegal firearms control and of the South African enforcement bureau, which are essential in fighting the proliferation of illegal firearms and narcotics.

The committee remains of the view that specialised units are central to the fight against crime. The committee has also highlighted that the Hawks need a separate budget to empower them to do their work efficiently. 

Read more on:    hawks  |  crime  |  corruption

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