Hawks boss in trouble with SARS over R131k
JOHANNESBURG — While the Hawks have been investigating Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and former SARS officials for their roles in the alleged “rogue” investigative unit, the head of the Hawks is fighting his own battles with the tax man.
News24 can reveal that in March, the High Court in Pretoria handed down a default judgment against Hawks boss Lieutenant General Berning Mthandazo Ntlemeza. The judgment related to “income tax” to the value of R131 055 that Ntlemeza appeared to owe SARS, according to court papers.
News24 established on Tuesday that the court file related to the judgment appeared to be missing. When the file was requested at the court, an archive official wrote “no file” on the official request form.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi refused to process queries relating to issues of a “personal nature”.
“You guys in the media are just trying to take him (Ntlemeza) down. Every single day there is something new in the media about the general,” an irate Mulaudzi said.
“I don’t work for SARS so I don’t know about the general’s tax affairs. I don’t deal with issues that are of a personal nature.”
News24 phoned Ntlemeza on his cellphone, but it went straight to a voicemail message. He did not respond to an SMS sent to him.
Corruption Watch head David Lewis said it was not desirable for the head of the Hawks to have such a judgment against him.
“It is particularly disconcerting given the role the Hawks are playing in relation to the various ongoing issues around SARS, including the probe into the alleged rogue unit.”
Ntlemeza had recently been at the centre of a storm of controversies.
In August, the Hawks instructed Gordhan and ex SARS employees to present themselves to the police unit’s offices to make warning statements, causing economic turbulence. Warning statements are often a precursor to criminal charges being laid against a suspect. Gordhan took legal advice and refused to comply with the Hawks’ instruction.
The Mail & Guardian reported last week that although the Hawks had “doggedly hounded” Gordhan and committed generous resources to probing the investigative unit at SARS, only one investigator was assigned to the multibillion-rand fraud and corruption investigation into the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
“Curiously, explosive allegations of fraud and corruption made against SARS’s second-in-command, Jonas Makwakwa, seemingly slipped by the Hawks,” the newspaper reported.
On September 14, Ntlemeza was questioned by Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts. MPs criticized him after he struggled to answer their questions.
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko admitted he had made a major error in appointing Ntlemeza, as he had neglected to formally tell Parliament about the appointment‚ as required by the South African Police Service Act.
The National Assembly would have to vote on condoning the error next month. — News24.