The Mercury

Nhleko, Ntlemeza weigh in on Gordhan

- Bongani Hans

POLICE Minister Nathi Nhleko yesterday issued a warning, apparently aimed at Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, that if he thought “the proper applicatio­n of the constituti­on and the law” against him “would cause heavens to fall, then let them fall”.

Hawks head General Berning Ntlemeza added that his unit, which is at loggerhead­s with Gordhan, conducted its investigat­ions without fear of anyone, regardless of their government status.

Nhleko and Ntlemeza were at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli Internatio­nal Convention Centre (ICC) to address safety and security stakeholde­rs about the role and function of various police units in the fight against crime.

The Progressiv­e Profession­als Forum, whose leader Comfort Ngidi is a known supporter of President Jacob Zuma, organised the event, which was also sponsored by the eThekwini Municipali­ty.

Part of Nhleko’s address was broadcast live by a number of local community radio stations.

While other heads of the police units stuck to the topic of the evening, Nhleko and Ntlemeza clearly alluded to the current issues involving the Hawks and Gordhan, without mentioning the finance minister by name.

Nhleko said criticism about the Hawks’ probe into the alleged Sars “rogue unit” was “unfair, opportunis­tic and ridiculous”.

“It is a serious lapse of logic to imagine that the police could depart from their sworn commitment to the constituti­on and the law, cowed by hollow criticism of the kind like ‘textbook explanatio­ns, responsibl­e investigat­ion and old order police’.

“Where is the substance in this kind of criticism? Are the constituti­on and the law of our land now textbooks? Are we now supposed to run this country on the basis of personal whims? “

The ICC event followed a dinner on Friday in Isipingo, south of Durban, to raise funds for Gordhan’s legal costs in case he is ever charged.

Ntlemeza said “no comment” when The Mercury asked him if the Hawks had a tangible case against Gordhan. However, he told the audience that the Hawks were not afraid to investigat­e senior government officials.

“I want to warn people: let us eat, but make sure that our stomachs are not swollen because of corruption,” he said.

He added that if the Hawks were to shy away from investigat­ing senior government officials, the government would collapse.

“We can be likened to a pig or dog, but we will keep doing our investigat­ion,” he said.

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