Hawks boss in trou­ble with SARS over R131k

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/worldwide -

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.

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