Hawks express surprise at Busisiwe Mkhwebane's accusations
The Hawks have reacted strongly to a statement by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane that she will not be giving a warning statement to the police unit, which is investigating criminal charges against her.
In August, Accountability Now laid charges of perjury and defeating the ends of justice against Mkhwebane, and the Hawks confirmed it was investigating that charge.
The charges arose out of the Constitutional Court judgment which found Mkhwebane was dishonest in her conduct in the saga surrounding the investigation into the apartheid-era loan by the Reserve Bank to Bankorp, which is now part of Absa.
At a media briefing on Tuesday, Mkhwebane said she would not provide the Hawks with a warning statement.
She said section 5(3) of the Public Protector Act provided that she cannot be held liable in respect of anything reflected in any report, finding, a point of view, or recommendation expressed in good faith and submitted to parliament.
Mkhwebane said she investigated a lot of matters and referred these to the Hawks for further investigation.
“Such matters hardly ever receive attention and yet there seems to be a prioritisation of trivial matters such as this one in question, which can under no circumstances be regarded or referred to as a priority crime,” Mkhwebane said.
In its response, the Hawks said it was not aware that the public protector had exercised her constitutional right to remain silent, after she had asked the national head of the Hawks to personally request her statement.
“The (Hawks) has been waiting for her exculpatory statement as expressly requested, so that the matter can be tabled before the National Prosecuting Authority for decision.
“Now that her refusal has been made known via the media, the (Hawks) shall no longer expect the application of the audi alteram partem (listen to the other side) rule but will now process the docket to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision, without her statement,” Hawks spokesperson Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi said.
Mulaudzi said Mkhwebane had not indicated that the law that informed her interpretation of what was labelled “priority crime”, as the SA Police Service Act did not use such terminology.
Mulaudzi also said that all the matters that had been referred to the Hawks by Mkhwebane's office were receiving attention.
“We have not received a concern from the public protector that suggests otherwise.”
He said the Hawks were committed to operating within the parameters of the law.
Mulaudzi said if the public protector was of the view that the police unit was abusing its powers and prejudiced her, she had the right to report to the retired judge who investigates complaints against the Hawks in terms of the SA Police Service Act, “without courting unnecessary publicity”.
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