#StateCaptureInquiry: Hawks demonstrate a ‘pattern of behaviour’

The legal team of the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture has noted a “pattern of behaviour” within the Hawks, it said on Wednesday. 

This after three key witnesses detailed encounters with the crime-fighting unit, during which senior Hawks officials allegedly attempted to undermine their evidence against the Guptas.

This “pattern of behaviour” was raised during the testimony of former head of Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) Themba Maseko. In his testimony before the commission, Maseko detailed how Gupta patriarch Ajay had approached in 2010 regarding the launch of Gupta-owned newspaper, The New Age.

Maseko told the commission about his encounters with the Hawks in 2018, who had approached him regarding their investigation into the Gupta family in April. The Hawks were preparing to lay charges against the Guptas and had asked to meet with Maseko regarding his allegations.

Maseko told the commission that his meeting with the Hawks never happened. Instead he was approached by the Hawks again, months later, this time regarding an investigation into him.

The investigation relates to an IT contract Maseko signed when he was director-general of the department of public works in 2005. The details of the case were revealed in a Sunday Times report published in July. In the report Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said he was not aware of the investigation.

Maseko remarked on Wednesday that he had received little information regarding the progress of the investigation into him, a fact that caused him concern as he attempted to make preparations for his appearance before the state capture inquiry.

Advocate Vincent Maleka SC, who was leading Maseko’s testimony, commented that it was unfair that the witness should have “a cloud hanging over him regarding something that happened 13 years ago”.

He also remarked on the “pattern of behaviour” within the Hawks, pointing to the testimonies of former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, who had just recently concluded her testimony.

On Monday and Tuesday, Mentor revealed details of the 2010 meeting between herself and Ajay Gupta, during which he allegedly offered her the position of public enterprises minister. Barbara Hogan was subsequently removed from that position in a Cabinet reshuffle. Hogan was replaced by Malusi Gigaba. 

Mentor revealed that she resolved to lay charges against “a number of people” at the Durbanville police station in 2016. She said she had requested to make her statement at home, because of her allegations implicated high-profile officials. Mentor recounted how two police captains came to her house the next morning, where they transcribed her statement. 

“We had breakfast, we had lunch, we had dinner; we continued with the task,” Mentor said. They only finished taking her statement at 9pm, Mentor said. Mentor said that her handwritten statement was “airlifted” in a private jet to Pretoria at the behest of Berning Ntlemeza, who served as the head of the Hawks at the time. When she was approached by the Hawks she was presented with a “corrupted” statement, she said.

A similar allegation against the Hawks was made by former deputy minister of finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, who testified before the inquiry on Friday. 

Jonas had testified that Ajay Gupta had offered him a bribe of R600-million and the position of minister of finance in exchange for his co-operation.

In his statement, Jonas said that Gupta told him the family controlled everything including the National Prosecuting Authority, the Hawks and the National Intelligence Agency.

Jonas said that the head of the Hawks anti-corruption unit attempted to coerce him to sign a statement that would halt the police investigation into the Guptas’ attempts to bribe him. The statement was presented to him by major general Zinhle Mnonopi.

Advocate Phillip Mokoena, who led Friday’s testimony, asked Jonas if the police statement that he was asked to sign was false, to which Jonas replied in the affirmatory. The draft police statement — which Jonas was asked to read out for the commission — suggested that he had refused to co-operate with the investigation. Jonas said he refused to sign the statement.

Jonas said he was not shocked at the Hawks’ alleged attempt to sabotage the case, because he had already suspected that the institution had been compromised.

On Monday, Mentor told the commission that Hawks advocate Mandla Mtolo presented her with a typed version of her statement, which contained a number of errors. Mentor also said that Mtolo had told her that there had been a delay with her investigation because she had mentioned Zuma in her statement. She said Mtolo told her to remove Zuma’s name from her statement.Mentor said she agreed to remove Zuma’s name if it would mean the case would go ahead. She suggested that she intended to reinstate Zuma’s name at a later stage of the investigation.

Mentor read out her handwritten statement, which she said she had sought for more than two years. In it she said that certain ministers, “as well as the president to a certain extent”, have “a corrupt relationship that gives unfair advantage to the Gupta family”.She was told by Mtolo to remove the phrase “as well as the president to a certain extent”, Mentor said.

On Wednesday, Mentor was presented with Mtolo’s opposing affidavit, which was filed to support his application for leave to cross-examine Mentor. Mtolo denies Mentor’s claim that he had anything to do with the “corrupted” statement other than having presented it to Mentor.

The commission is still awaiting supplementary information from Mtolo before it decides on whether or not to grant him leave to cross-examine the witness. The same applies to Mnonopi’s supporting affidavit.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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