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Thu Dec 08 20:14:41 CAT 2016

Perjury charge aimed at removing Hawks boss from row with Gordhan

TMG Digital | 2016-03-16 07:36:07.0
Posturing statements between Pravin Gordhan and Ntlemeza on Tuesday caused the rand to plummet‚ and came a day ahead of the arrival of a delegation from Moody’s in South Africa to meet with Gordhan about of a potential sovereign credit rating downgrade. File photo
Image by: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS

The Congress of the People (Cope) hopes the perjury charge it will lay against Major-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza on Wednesday will remove the Hawks head from the spat between his crime-figthing unit and the finance minster.

The Congress of the People (Cope) hopes the perjury charge it will lay against Major-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza on Wednesday will remove the Hawks head from the spat between his crime-figthing unit and the finance minster.

Posturing statements between Pravin Gordhan and Ntlemeza on Tuesday caused the rand to plummet‚ and came a day ahead of the arrival of a delegation from Moody’s in South Africa to meet with Gordhan about of a potential sovereign credit rating downgrade.

Cope’s Dennis Bloem told TMG Digital on Wednesday that laying the charge would hopefully result in Ntlemeza’s immediate suspension.

Bloem said Gordhan should be investigated for any alleged involvement in the rogue intelligence unit operating within the South African Revenue Service (SARS) – “no one‚ is above the law” – but‚ said of Ntlemeza: “We can’t have a man who is a liar‚ who is dishonest‚ who lacks integrity‚ makes false statements…leading the investigation.

“Those are not the words of Cope‚ those are the words of a judge‚” he added‚ referencing a scathing Pretoria High Court ruling by Judge Elias Matojane in the case involving the suspension of Gauteng head of the Hawks Shadrack Sibiya last March.

If Ntlemeza continued as head of the Hawks‚ any probe about the spy unit would seem “doubtful and lack credibility”‚ Bloem added.

Tuesday’s war of words erupted when Ntlemeza attacked Gordhan's denial that he had received a "second" letter demanding answers on a rogue intelligence unit.

Treasury spokesman Phumza Macanda hit back‚ saying the impression being created that Gordhan had received a "new letter" was totally misleading.

Macanda said: "The last letter received is dated March 3. The minister's legal representatives received it on March 4 and responded on March 7. That there is a letter that has not been responded to is factually incorrect.

"The Hawks have not responded to the minister's lawyers' representations for further clarity [requested in the letter dated March 7]."

Gordhan‚ she said‚ would have preferred to abide by the request of the Presidency and the ANC to not debate this matter publicly.

"However‚ once again the Hawks triggered a response because of their threatening statement."

Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the unit had noted "with concerns" utterances made by Gordhan in regard to both him and his lawyers being unable to find a "second" letter.

On Monday‚ Gordhan said: "I spent three hours with my attorney looking for this letter but the letter [being referred to] was the letter of March 3."

Gordhan said in his response to the March 3 letter he had asked under what legislation the Hawks were basing their investigation.

He said: "The statement says once we have that clarity we will take legal advice and do whatever is the right thing to do and no one is above the law [sic]."

Mulaudzi said: "This is neither a talk show nor a soapie. We are mandated to investigate without fear‚ favour or prejudice.

"The minister‚ for whatever reasons‚ has failed to meet the 'second' deadline for answering questions and our legal team are forging a way forward‚ which will see the Hawks exercising our constitutional powers."

Mulaudzi said on February 19 Ntlemeza sent Gordhan a letter with questions he was obliged to answer on or before March 1.

"The minister received the letter‚ but instead of providing us with answers he sent a written response via his legal representatives requesting more time to answer questions as he was busy preparing the Budget speech.

"The letter from his attorney was received by this office on March 1‚ an hour before his deadline." He said that in the letter the minister did not mention how much time he needed to answer the questions‚ and as a result another letter was written to his attorneys on March 3.

"It is disturbing that the minister was adamant that he never saw a letter with March 14 as his 'second' deadline to answer questions.

"This office also received a letter from his attorneys dated March 7‚ acknowledging the receipt of our letter with March 14 as his new deadline. The letter also stated ... the 'imposed deadline of March 14 was not achievable and that the minister would be able to respond as soon as he returned from overseas'."

Mulaudzi said the minister‚ through his lawyer's letter‚ had questioned Ntlemeza's authority.

"Had the minister‚ like any law-abiding citizen‚ complied with our letter and provided answers‚ we would not be where we are today."

Newly appointed Hawks oversight judge‚ Judge Essa Moosa‚ on Tuesday told Parliament that if Gordhan felt his rights were being violated‚ his office would investigate his complaints. – TMG Digital/The Times

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