Ntlemeza: No political pressure on Hawks over Gordhan

2016-10-12 17:09
Berning Ntlemeza (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Berning Ntlemeza (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza says there is no political pressure on him or the unit when making decisions to investigate cases, including Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s.

“I’m just doing my job without fear, favour or being influenced by any person,” he told Parliament’s police portfolio committee on Wednesday.

He and a delegation of senior police officers were addressing MPs about the Hawks’ performance in the 2015/16 financial year.

African National Congress MP Angelina Molebatsi asked Ntlemeza if the Hawks had to get a green light to investigate high-profile cases.

“We are independent. When we deal with an issue, we deal with it without being told by anyone that we must do this and that.

“If I see this crime is involving national interest, I'll approach the national commissioner. We agree and we move on. No person outside can tell me what to do.”

Gordhan was charged by the National Prosecuting Authority on Tuesday on a count of fraud following an investigation by the Hawks. The issue relates to the early retirement of former Sars deputy Ivan Pillay.

'Was the president informed?'

Freedom Front Plus MP Petrus Groenewald asked Ntlemeza if there had been any communication with President Jacob Zuma that the Hawks was investigating one of his Cabinet members. Ntlemeza said there had been no such communication.

“I investigate cases, and after finishing I take the cases to the prosecuting authority.”

Groenewald said the issue was not that simple, and that Ntlemeza’s answer begged more questions.

“Doesn't the general think that at least he should have contacted the president? It has huge implications, not just on the country but on his Cabinet. How is it possible that the president was not contacted?”

ANC MP Leonard Ramatlakane said the decision to prosecute was within the justice minister’s purview, and asking Ntlemeza was like “trying to get water out of the stone”.

ANC MP Angelina Molebatsi said Groenewald should stop looking at Gordhan as a Cabinet minister, but as a citizen.

“Like the president?” chirped the DA's Marius Redelinghuys, referring to the NPA’s reluctance to prosecute Zuma on 783 charges of corruption, as the High Court in Pretoria had instructed in April.

Acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said the National Director of Public Prosecutions informed Justice Minister Michael Masutha about the decision to charge Gordhan.

“I think he was doing that to ensure the Cabinet minister was able to engage with the president.”

The police department may therefore be the wrong people to ask if Zuma was informed about the decision to charge Gordhan, he said.

Read more on:    hawks  |  berning ntlemeza  |  parliament 2016

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