State capture inquiry claims first scalp, as top Hawks official suspended

2018-09-02 06:01
Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya. (Theana Calitz, City Press)

Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya. (Theana Calitz, City Press)

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The judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture may have already claimed its first scalp.

The first victim of the inquiry headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is Hawks anti-corruption task team unit head Zinhle Mnonopi, who was suspended on Thursday afternoon.

Mnonopi was implicated by former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas in his evidence last week. Jonas claimed Mnonopi tried to kill a case in which one of the Gupta brothers, Ajay Gupta, was accused of having tried to bribe him with R600m and a ministerial post.

The case also implicates former president Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane, who is out on R100 000 bail.

READ: Hawks advocate could be in hot water over 'cover up' statement for Jonas

Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya confirmed to City Press this week that Mnonopi was served with a notice of suspension on Thursday, based on allegations that she "interfered with the investigations and acted without impartiality".

Lebeya said the allegations – brought to the attention of the Hawks' management by the commission's legal team prior to the hearings – were very serious and went against the Hawks' code of conduct.

"I have already appointed someone to act in the post while the investigation into her alleged conduct is under way. Based on the findings of the investigations, we will decide whether to institute disciplinary proceedings or not," Lebeya said.

Mnonopi is the third most senior officer within the Hawks and reports directly to former acting Hawks head Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata.

She heads the unit responsible for investigating all corruption-related cases nationally.

READ: Hawks seriously concerned by Jonas' allegations

According to officers within the Hawks, earlier this week Mnonopi was asked to give reasons she shouldn't be suspended, pending the investigation into her conduct on Tuesday.

"Her lawyer made representations to the management but the seriousness of the charges warranted that she be suspended. Mnonopi is not just an ordinary officer, she is the most senior officer responsible for handling corruption cases," said a Hawks officer.

Last week Jonas dropped several bombshells during his testimony.

SEE: Jonas' scathing state capture inquiry revelations

In one of the startling revelations, Jonas told the commission how he was contacted by former Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza, who later assigned his known ally – Major General Mnonopi – to handle the case.

"She [Mnonopi] initially contacted me in June 2016 ... she was investigating complaints that had been laid by Mr [Dennis] Bloem and Mr [David] Maynier ... She said she was coming to see me with a prepared statement ... I called my attorney, Max Boqwana ..."

Jonas said Mnonopi came with a statement that contradicted his stance on the case in many respects, including that he was "not a witness" and not interested in opening a case in future.

"I refused to sign the statement," Jonas told the inquiry.

Jonas said he was not startled by Mnonopi's attempt to "kill the case" as he was already told by one of the Gupta brothers that they "control everything; we are in control of the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority]; we are in control of the Hawks; we are in control of National Intelligence".

Jonas said "Major General Mnonopi told me this was a "DA matter" and that ... "they wanted to kill the case".

"She said ... the prosecution believed it could kill the case. We need your statement as a matter of finality as there is no case. It is necessary for us to close the matter. Your statement must state that you are not a witness for anyone and that you do not want to make a statement as such."

Legal team appointed

Sources within the NPA told City Press this week that Mnonopi had already appointed a legal team to request an application to cross examine Jonas and challenge the allegations he made before the inquiry.

"She has also told Lebeya that Jonas lied and was a hostile witness who never availed himself when investigators wanted to see him," said a source close to Mnonopi.

In the second week of the commission, witness after witness began to paint a picture that gave insight into the inner workings of the Gupta machine – providing light into how it infiltrated key law enforcement institutions, government departments and officials.

Testimony by former parliamentarian Vytjie Mentor indicated that the Gupta family might have possibly "taken charge" soon after former president Jacob Zuma became president.

In her testimony Mentor revealed how, in early 2010, the Guptas were already "running things".

She explained to the commission how she was offered the position of public enterprises minister by Ajay Gupta, provided she tweaked the routes flown by the state airline.

READ: Vytjie Mentor's full statement to state capture commission

Former GCIS head Mzwanele Manyi stole the show at the state capture inquiry on Friday when he seemingly attempted to influence the testimony of acting GCIS director-general Phumla Williams by sending her an SMS, asking her to make certain statements.

He has since sent a formal request to appear before the commission to give his side of the story.

READ: Manyi tried to influence my testimony – Phumla Williams

The commission's legal team revealed on Saturday that it was in the process of finalising who would be called to appear in the next few weeks.

Read more on:    hawks  |  godfrey lebeya  |  state capture  |  corruption  |  state capture inquiry

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