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Hawks confirm criminal investigation into public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

Public protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Public protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

The Hawks have confirmed they are are investigating a criminal complaint laid against public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

"Whatever we are investigating is what we will be getting from the public," Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya said on Wednesday.

Lebeya was referring to Accountability Now director Paul Hoffman who laid a criminal complaint against Mkhwebane on Tuesday. 

BusinessLIVE reported on Monday that the complaint was laid by Hoffman. He submitted the complaint to the public protector's office on the same day. 

He said in a statement on Tuesday that the criminal complaint will be investigated by the Hawks, while the maladministration complaint against Mkhwebane will have to be investigated by her deputy as she cannot investigate herself.

Hoffman said in an affidavit submitted to the police that the criminal charges arose out of the same Constitutional Court judgment that found she was dishonest in her conduct in the saga surrounding the investigation into the apartheid-era loan by the SA Reserve Bank to Bankorp, which is now part of Absa.

Meanwhile, the Hawks revealed on Wednesday that were sitting with more than 2,000 fraud cases but there are limited financial crime investigators within the department.

The Hawks said on Wednesday that for the 2017/2018 financial year they recorded 2,158 fraud and corruption cases involving R182bn.

During his keynote address at the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators workshop on Wednesday, Lebeya said there was a lack of resources within his department to tackle financial fraud cases.

He said their capacity was 2,500 staff but these included administrative officers who did  "not necessarily investigate". The investigators numbered about 1,700.

"We are half of what we are supposed to be, but we are working on that one.

"The more we get, the more we need to be able to respond. If we are few, it means it takes time and gives the criminals time to spend the loot that they have. We need more resources," Lebeya said.

Lebeya said they had some cases that were "older than the Hawks", referring to some of the rhino horn cases in Limpopo.

"They are still there on the court roll, you can't wish them away." 

On the issue of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Lebeya said they were investigating some of the claims and that senior investigators had been assigned.

"Most of the cases that are being cited at state capture are already under investigation. They were already being investigated so we continue with the investigation. We can't be waiting until the [state capture] report is released when there are clear indications that crime had been committed." 

He said he had sent one of his senior investigators to the Free State recently to interview state capture witnesses to see if they could help with investigations.

Lebeya said several municipalities were under investigations for fraud and corruption.

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