Hawks head should stop interfering - McBride
Pretoria – Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza has no business telling National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams who he should or should not prosecute, Ipid head Robert McBride said on Friday.
“What we know is that there has been interference and that is frightening,” McBride told News24.
“What we have seen recently is part of why I want my organisation to remain resolute and to conduct itself in the most professional way. We cut to the bone when we do investigations without fear or favour.”
He was referring to a war of words between Ntlemeza and Abrahams over the latter’s decision to withdraw a fraud case against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and two former Sars colleagues.
“It is not the first time they have interfered with investigations and have collaborated. It's an indication of the crisis the criminal justice system is in.”
McBride claimed there were cases where Ntlemeza would interfere with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate’s (Ipid) investigations.
He said during his suspension the Hawks “lifted” Ipid dockets relating to Hawks’ officials and started investigating these cases themselves.
“It's improper and shouldn't be done.”
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said McBride and Ntlemeza should set examples and stop fighting.
“This thing of the two fighting among themselves is not right. We respect the views of Mr McBride, but if anyone has a problem with the Hawks, they must go to the judge. We work for one government and at the end of the day we have to work together,” he said.
“It is about time that leaders bring back confidence in the people of the country."
The exchange between Ntlemeza and Abrahams was revealed in court papers the latter filed on Tuesday. In them, Abrahams indicated he had received a letter from Ntlemeza the day before he dropped charges against Gordhan on October 31.
In his letter, Ntlemeza accused Abrahams of making the decision in bad faith, based on “noise” from politicians, civil society lobby groups, and the media.
Abrahams wrote back, saying he took “umbrage at the very serious allegations you levelled against me” and that these were “completely incorrect and ill-informed”.
Earlier this week, DA MP Zakhele Mbhele said the letter was yet another damning indictment of Ntlemeza.
“The letter details Abrahams's justified displeasure with Ntlemeza's inability to stay in his lane and stick to his mandate - which is to investigate priority crime and to hand over the investigation to the NPA for the decision on whether or not to prosecute.”
The DA had already written to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to ask for Ntlemeza to be suspended so the Hawks could “claw back” their credibility.
This article first appeared on News24.