14 nabbed already and net closing in on more politicians – Hawks boss

Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya. Picture: Theana Calitz
Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya. Picture: Theana Calitz

The Hawks’ National Clean Audit Task Team dragnet, which has already netted 14, is closing in on more politicians, who will soon be ‘visited’ by the Hawks

The net is closing in on more politicians and officials in municipalities across the country as the Hawks intensify their investigations into graft and maladministration, according to Hawks head Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya.

The Hawks’ National Clean Audit Task Team (NCATT) has, since last month, arrested 14 politicians, officials and businesspeople in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State on corruption-related charges.

The biggest name caught in the dragnet was eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede – more than three weeks ago – and Lebeya says they will soon be “visiting” several other municipalities across South Africa.

Although he would not reveal those being targeted for arrest, Lebeya told City Press that the municipalities in the Hawks’ sights should have “received some visits a long time ago”.

“It is just a matter of time. When we feel that we are ready to proceed we can then decide on which municipality to visit first based on the progress with our investigations,” he said.

These “visits”, Lebeya said, will result in those “visited” being handcuffed and sent to the nearest court to face criminal charges.

“We have a team that is working around the clock and is investigating several acts of corruption and serious crimes throughout the country,” he said.

“The team is made up of many seasoned investigators, some of whom we requested be seconded from the greater SA Police Service to come and assist us with some of the investigations.”

Lebeya said the NCATT includes founding members of the Hawks’ anti-corruption task team.

“These are some of the skilled members we had lost but who will also help in rebuilding the Hawks,” he said.

“The task team reports to me and I monitor the progress and the deliverables.”

Lebeya said although the Hawks were criticised for the timing of Gumede’s arrest and faced allegations that they were biased towards the faction of the ANC aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa, they were “just doing our work” and that politics “had nothing to do with the arrest”. Gumede is out on R50 000 bail.

“When is the right time to effect an arrest? What does politics have to do with police work? We act without fear, favour and prejudice,” he said.

“More arrests are expected as the task team continues with its interventions to rid municipalities of maladministration, fraud and corruption,” he said.

But they are not only targeting municipalities, he said.

In the past month alone, the Hawks have submitted 1 800 completed corruption cases to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for corruption, serious economic crimes and priority crimes.

The Hawks are now awaiting decisions from the prosecutors which will inform them whether the cases are ready for arrests or if they need further investigation.

“Once we receive feedback [from the NPA], we will know what needs to be done” he said.

While Lebeya’s focus remains on pursuing those who looted municipalities, state-owned enterprises, and those who committed serious and economic crimes, he inherited an understaffed unit with problems of its own.

One of his top officials, anti-corruption task team unit head Zinhle Mnonopi, was implicated by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas at the Zondo commission.

Jonas claimed that Mnonopi tried to quash a case in which he accused Ajay Gupta of trying to bribe him with R600 million and the job of finance minister.

Former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, who is out on R100 000 bail, was also implicated in the case.

Mnonopi was suspended but her suspension was lifted after the state failed to wrap up its case against her. Now she faces an internal disciplinary process, Lebeya said.

“I have also initiated an internal investigation into the disappearance of a docket against two senior officers. The matter has also been reported to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate for further investigation,” he said.

Among those arrested with Gumede last month were eThekwini councillor Mondi Mthembu and businessman Craig Ponnen.

There are eight other co-accused, including municipal officials and business owners.

They are all accused of corruption and fraud stemming from the alleged unlawful awarding of waste removal tenders.

According to the NPA, the service providers involved were not on the municipality’s database, had no trucks or the capacity to do the work, and they had no offices and no waste removal certificates either.

Lebeya said the arrests “herald a new dawn in the fight against corruption and fraud in municipalities across the country”.

“I appreciate and commend the work of the team which has been going on for the past nine months. The work will continue until all those who played a role in abusing taxpayers’ monies answer for their actions in court.”

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