Hawks hit back: ‘Our mandate is serious crime. We are not interested in politics’

Major-General Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza. Picture: Emile Hendricks
Major-General Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza. Picture: Emile Hendricks

Johannesburg - The Hawks are wise to a “crusade” to associate the elite crime fighting unit with politics by those who “peddle lies to satisfy their own selfish needs”, spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi says.

This follows questions over an alleged meeting between Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza and ANC Limpopo secretary Nocks Seabi, and subsequent talk of criminal investigations against some of Seabi’s political opponents in the province, among them the new ANC Capricorn district municipality mayor John Mpe.

“We want to put it on record that there was no so-called meeting between Lieutenant-General Ntlemeza and Mr Seabi in Polokwane at a restaurant or any other place,” Mulaudzi told City Press today.

“We are not interested or involved in politics [apolitical]. Our mandate is to deal with serious crimes in this country. We are aware that there is crusade to associate the Hawks to politics and we condemn this ongoing narrow thinking by those who continue to peddle lies to satisfy their own selfish needs,” he said.

Ntlemeza had been drawn into the ANC’s election fallout battle in Capricorn as it emerged that the Hawks were investigating Mpe over the same charges that he faced last year during a disciplinary hearing and won.

An eyewitness told City Press that two weeks ago at the Nguni Grill restaurant in Bendor in Polokwane Ntlemeza had met Seabi and the meeting had been linked to the criminal investigation against Mpe – as well as speculation in ANC circles that provincial Agriculture MEC Mapula Mokaba-Phukwana (who could not be reached for comment) could also be charged for a different matter.

During the August municipal elections Mpe, also ANC deputy chairperson in Peter Mokaba region, defeated Seabi’s political ally and regional chairperson Devet Monakedi to become the new mayor of Capricorn municipality – which was also a coup against the same administration that had last year hauled him before a disciplinary hearing.

Ntlemeza had, since his appointment to the Hawks last September, been haunted by criticism that he was politically compromised, the latest being the Hawks threat to arrest Finance minister Pravin Gordhan. This week police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said that he made a “mistake” by not informing Parliament of Ntlemeza’s appointment – which could render the appointment invalid if not condoned.

In September last year the Capricorn district municipality charged Mpe, then a senior manager of performance, with abscondment after being suspended for the period between July 2014 and July 2015. His defence had been that he was serving a suspension during that period. A disciplinary hearing was held from September 30 2015 to December 3 2015. Mpe won the case and resigned in May this year.

Mpe told City Press that last Friday he received a call from the Hawks’ head of the anti-corruption unit, Major-General Zinhle Mnonopi, informing him that he had allegations to answer to and that investigators had been sent to his office but they did not find him. Yesterday, Mnonopi referred questions to Mulaudzi.

Mulaudzi said Mnonopi had denied contacting Mpe and “we are not aware of any investigation against Mpe and we want to distance ourselves from any insinuations of any political meddling by the Hawks in any of the cases they are investigating”.

Seabi could not be reached for comment.

City Press reported last month that Seabi was behind a plot to unseat Limpopo premier and ANC chairperson Stan Mathabatha. Mpe, together with provincial ANC treasurer Danny Msiza, were seen to be among those close to Mathabatha.

A document leaked to the publication linked Mathabatha and Msiza to a campaign for deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed President Jacob Zuma at the ANC national elective conference next year.

Although the document claimed that Seabi was associated with the so-called Premier League – an informal ANC lobby group seen to be backing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over from Zuma – those close to Msiza said that he regularly met the with the Premier League.

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