Hawks ‘witch-hunts’ smack of police state antics‚ DA charges
The Democratic Alliance has repeated its call for the Hawks to be disbanded in light of what the DA calls its “political capture” and the Scorpions reinstated to its rightful place under a strong and independent National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) as the country’s key corruption-busting unit. DA spokesman on police Zakhele Mbhele said recent examples of witch hunts under the Hawks’ auspices included the suspicious arrest of forensic investigator‚ Paul O’Sullivan‚ and the investigation of the Public Protector‚ Adv Thuli Madonsela‚ and Hawks bosses Anwa Dramat‚ Johan Booysen and Shadrack Sibiya.“When probed about the nature of their investigations that seem motivated by settling political scores‚ the unlawfully installed Hawks boss‚ Berning Ntlemeza‚ either obfuscates in answering critical questions as to the motives of his investigations or denies them completely‚” Mbhele asserted.In the case of the Public Protector‚ he said‚ Ntlemeza had stated unequivocally that there was not an investigation afoot against Madonsela. Yet the DA was in possession of a letter that confirmed that she was currently the subject of a baseless Hawks investigation for perjury.“One can only draw the conclusion that following her investigations of high-ranking ANC members that she has been targeted for no other reason than discharging her mandate without fear‚ favour or prejudice‚” Mbhele stated.“Additionally‚ EFF Leader Julius Malema was stopped while driving in Johannesburg in an intimidatory operation for no reason at all at the weekend. This too is no doubt due to his remarks and intentions following the Constitutional Court judgment against President Zuma on Thursday last week.“Just last month it was reported that the Helen Suzman Foundation was robbed. This was suspiciously soon after Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation launched a review application into the unlawful appointment and fitness for office of Mr Ntlemeza‚” Mbhele charged.He claimed the Hawks had become dogged by political interference and were now seemingly used to conduct political witch hunts.“It is no surprise that civil society organisations are this week scheduled to make arguments to have Ntlemeza’s appointment set aside as irrational. This will be the first step in ensuring that the Hawks are disbanded and the Scorpions are re-established. “Since the disbandment of the corruption-busting Scorpions‚ arrest and conviction rates by its replacement‚ the Hawks‚ have dropped at an alarming rate. Specifically‚ a reply to a parliamentary question in October last year revealed that since the disbandment of the Scorpions in January 2009‚ there has been a 60% decline in arrests and an astounding 83% plummet in conviction rates in the last six years of the Hawks’ existence‚” Mbhele added.He said this was clear evidence that the disbandment of the Scorpions was fatally flawed in the first place because it had allowed for pervasive undue political influence.“The Hawks are now used to settle political scores and to intimidate those who would speak the truth about corruption to those in power. Given the current political environment‚ it is more imperative than ever that the body responsible for fighting corruption be free of political interference and is able to carry out its work without fear or favour.“The DA will continue to stand firm in its position that the Hawks be disbanded and that the Scorpions be re-established under the NPA‚ which itself must be independent and free from political interference‚ so that we can start making meaningful strides in the fight against corruption‚” Mbhele stated.