Hawks given new instructions in Hlongwa graft allegations
The Hawks say the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has given them new instructions in their investigations into corruption allegations against former Gauteng health MEC Brian Hlongwa.
Hlongwa, who is currently the ANC’s chief whip in Gauteng, has allegedly been linked to corruption amounting to R1.2-billion. The allegations date back to when he was MEC, between 2006 and 2009.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told News24 on Wednesday that the investigations were ongoing.
“There are new instructions that have been given to the investigating team by the NPA on the matter and investigations are ongoing,” said Mulaudzi.
“The new instructions remain confidential,” he added.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) released a damning report in May, linking Hlongwa to corruption.
The report detailed outcomes of an investigation which were submitted to former president Jacob Zuma in March 2017.
Zuma had tasked the SIU to investigate alleged corruption in the health department in May 2010.
‘Case is still in existence’
Mulaudzi said they had prepared a warrant to arrest Hlongwa in 2014 but that the NPA withdrew it.
“The reasons for the withdrawal must be directed to the NPA,” he said.
Mulaudzi denied media reports that Hlongwa’s docket would be “reopened”.
“How do you open a case that is in existence?” he asked.
When contacted on Wednesday, Hlongwa told News24 he couldn’t talk because he was in “an urgent meeting”.
He referred News24 to a statement he released on Monday regarding the SIU report.
In the statement, Hlongwa said the report was nothing new and labelled it a ploy “to embarrass the Gauteng ANC”.
“Contrary to the impression created in the media, therefore, the SIU report is not a new and sensational exposé,” Hlongwa said.
“The report is a summary of an ongoing legal process, the detail of which has been in the public domain for the last four years and which, I add, has been regularly reheated (sic) at strategic intervals, primarily to embarrass the Gauteng ANC,” he said.
“Until the report’s publication, I was not aware that the SIU had completed its investigation, which it had commenced in 2010.”
In its report, the SIU uncovered evidence of various trips funded by 3P Consulting for Hlongwa and a few Gauteng department of health officials from 2006 to 2009.
“No evidence was obtained of Hlongwa declaring the trips or paying/reimbursing 3P Consulting for these trips,” read a part of the report.
DA welcomes Hawks announcement
Democratic Alliance health spokesperson in Gauteng Jack Bloom said the DA welcomed the announcement by Mulaudzi “that they will reopen the crime docket” against Hlongwa.
Bloom said he suspected political interference in the case, “as no satisfactory reason” was provided to explain why the warrant to arrest Hlongwa had been withdrawn.
“Another excessive delay has been with the Asset Forfeiture Unit’s application four years ago to seize Hlongwa’s house in Bryanston, which he bought for R7.2-million, allegedly with financial assistance from corrupt sources. There is such a mound of evidence against Hlongwa that it is simply not credible for him to repeatedly claim that he is entirely innocent in this matter,” Bloom said in a statement on Wednesday.
Hlongwa said the matter was widely reported in 2014, when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) sought a preservation order against property he allegedly bought with proceeds of corruptly-awarded tenders.
He said the NPA had instituted forfeiture proceedings in 2014.
Hlongwa also said affidavits were exchanged in those proceedings and that he was co-operating fully with the NPA.
“The allegations in the NPA’s papers (now summarised in the SIU report) have been regularly ventilated in the Gauteng provincial legislature at least once a year since 2014, and each round has likewise been reported in the press. I ask that the law be permitted to take its course in relation to the ongoing proceedings.
“In October 2014, the Hawks informed me that they had issued a warrant for my arrest — again, in respect of the self-same allegations which are now summarised in the SIU report. I arranged to hand myself over to the Hawks.
“My legal representatives had already prepared affidavits in support of the inevitable bail application when the Hawks informed me that, at that point in time, they would not be proceeding with my arrest. I am not privy to their reasons.”
No confirmation from the Hawks
Bloom added: “It was now six days since the release of the SIU report and he (Hlongwa) has still not been fired by Premier David Makhura.”
“How many more days before he loses his R1.4-million a year chief whip position and faces trial in a court of law?” asked Bloom.
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said he was on leave and referred News24 to Phindi Mjondwane.
Mjondwane, who also said she was on leave, could not confirm whether the NPA had given the Hawks new instructions.
She said she needed time to check with the DPP’s office in Gauteng to confirm whether the Hawks had been given new instructions in the matter.
“The Hawks are the ones who bring the docket then, if we find that there are further investigations that still need to be conducted, then we guide them as to what must happen next. We are not the ones who tell the Hawks to register cases,” she said. — News24