Hawks keep 'very serious' eye on claim against graft unit head

26 August 2018 - 00:06 By RANJENI MUNUSAMY

The Hawks will not ask to cross-examine former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas over his evidence at the state capture commission of inquiry that the head of its anticorruption unit tried to sabotage a probe into the Gupta attempt to bribe him.
The unit could instead employ Jonas's help to act against one of their own.
National Hawks head Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya pledged to take "appropriate action" against Maj-Gen Zinhle Mnonopi if Jonas's evidence that she tried to compel him to sign a false statement was found to be true.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said Mnonopi was free "as an individual" to contest Jonas's testimony that she told him in the presence of his lawyer that the police wanted to "kill the case" as it was a "DA matter".
The evidence leader at the commission, advocate Phillip Mokoena SC, said all those who Jonas implicated in his evidence could apply to cross-examine him. Jonas was therefore informed that he might need to return to the commission.
Mulaudzi said the Hawks were "not getting involved" as the institution was not being questioned. Mnonopi was, however, entitled to legal representation. She has applied to the commission to cross-examine Jonas.
Mnonopi could face investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate as well as an internal investigation, Mulaudzi said.
"We were aware there was going to be evidence at the commission that would test the integrity of the DPCI [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks] and we witnessed it. The national head of the Hawks has taken a stance that the allegations are very serious," he said. "There are no holy cows."
In a written statement on Friday, the Hawks said they supported the work of the commission and would "allow the witnesses to complete the testimony without distraction before enlisting their assistance in visiting the matter".
Jonas told the commission chair, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, that Mnonopi had told him "there is no case here" and presented him with a draft statement that created the false impression that he was refusing to co-operate with investigators.
Jonas said he was first contacted by the then head of the Hawks, Gen Berning Ntlemeza, after his March 2016 public statement exposing an alleged attempt by one of the Gupta brothers to bribe him to accept the finance minister post. After the statement and media reports on the matter, complaints were laid with the police by DA MP David Maynier and COPE MP Dennis Bloem.
Jonas said he was informed by Ntlemeza that Mnonopi would contact him regarding the case. She phoned him on June 20 2016.
"She said she was coming to see me at the Treasury with a prepared statement. I called Mr Max Boqwana, my attorney, to ask him to be present at the meeting. Maj-Gen Mnonopi told us that this was a 'DA matter' and that I did not want to help the DA and that they wanted to kill the case," Jonas said. "She said to us that 'we need your statement as a formality as there is no case here'."
The draft police statement, which Jonas attached to his affidavit, states: "During our engagement she informed me that I am cited as a witness in both cases and for that reason, a detailed statement is required from me. I responded to her that I am not prepared to submit any statement as I never opened any case against anyone and I don't intend opening any, further I'm not a witness to any person.
"We (the investigating officer and myself) later made an agreement to meet for such an affidavit. Today I met with the investigating officer as arranged and I still maintain my position that I don't have any statement in this regard. That is all I wish to say."
Jonas said he refused to sign this prepared statement, which he said Mnonopi told him had been approved by a prosecutor. Instead, he made a sworn statement confirming his March 2016 media statement about the bribery attempt...

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