Editorials 7.9.2016 06:09 am

Stop Berning down SA please, Hawks

Hawks head Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza. Picture: Gallo

Hawks head Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza. Picture: Gallo

There can be no doubt internal squabbles within various ANC factions pose a serious threat to the country’s public institutions.

Clearly, attacks on individuals in these institutions are aimed at undermining the fight against corruption. Outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was subjected to such attacks after she took on powerful individuals implicated in graft.

The latest victim of factional ANC battles which have seen an upsurge in the abuse of state machinery is Treasury. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who heads the Treasury, is being hounded, not for failure to do his job, but for his efforts to prevent a ruling party gang and its private business associates from raiding the public purse.

The strategy of those who can’t wait to see Gordhan’s back is there for all to see. The aim is to destroy his credibility by making him answer to trumped-up charges so that he can be removed.

Yesterday, the Constitutional Court set aside Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s decision to suspend Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride. The court found that the provisions of the Ipid Act undermined the directorate’s constitutionally guaranteed independence.

From the onset, there were suspicions that McBride was being victimised for political motives. A few months ago, McBride, former Hawks head Anwa Dramat and former SA Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay issued a joint statement in which they claimed they were removed from their posts because they were investigating high-profile individuals implicated in corruption.

“A common thread is that cases under investigation involved individuals or entities with questionable relationships to those in public office,” the trio said in the statement. “Most of these cases involved state tenders of some kind that were awarded due to patronage with influential individuals in public office. There is clearly an attempt in our view … that there is connivance between certain elements of the Hawks and the [National Prosecuting Authority] in persecuting us.”

Interestingly, the man who succeeded Dramat as head of the Hawks is Major General Mthandazo “Berning” Ntlemeza, whose integrity was torn to shreds by a court. No wonder he is now firmly in the pockets of a corrupt bunch whose mission is to loot the Treasury with no regard at all for the broader consequences to the economy. This blatant abuse of state resources must be fought vigorously by all to save this country from a predatory self-serving elite.

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