LEAKED LETTER – ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule threatens the Hawks
LEAKED LETTER – ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule threatens the Hawks
Magashule tells NPA not to humiliate him by publicly arresting him and spreading fake news
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has warned the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) that there is no need for a “media spectacle” if any criminal charges are to be preferred against him. On Wednesday, in a letter to the two law enforcement bodies through his lawyer, Victor Nkhwashu, Magashule said he was not persuaded that the widely circulated media reports of his arrest were fake news, as claimed by the Hawks. He vowed to challenge any plans to subject him to public embarrassment.
“We are instructed that you are planning a media spectacle when you effect the arrest of our client. Our client should not be singled out for an arrest for no reason, as you are planning to do. Nor should he be humiliated, as we understand you are planning to do,” the letter read.
Nkhwashu added that his office would help to secure Magashule’s appearance in court, should the need arise.
“This letter serves to notify you that, should you have the intention of ensuring our client’s attendance at any court of law, it should be achieved with due regard to his constitutional rights. You should direct your communications to our office and we shall ensure that our client complies with any lawful demands,” he wrote.
As far as the arrest was concerned, he stated: “We notify you that there are no lawful reasons for the arrest of our client.
“If he is lawfully required to hand himself over to the authorities, he will do so. This can be arranged through this office.”
The NPA’s Bulelwa Makeke confirmed to Nkhwashu that the matter would “receive the necessary attention”, while the Hawks’ Captain Pumla Mphotulo merely acknowledged receipt of the letter.
A ‘STAGE-MANAGED’ ARREST
Reports that a warrant of arrest was out for Magashule broke on Tuesday, suggesting that either the Hawks or the investigative directorate in the NPA were behind it.
The Hawks were the first to dismiss the reports as fake news, but the NPA did not comment. Nkhwashu said in his letter that, despite the denial by the Hawks, “the NPA has not stated whether the allegations of an impending arrest of our client are true or not”.
He added: “The denials of the Hawks are also striking in their lack of detail. They do not state whether a decision was taken to apply for a warrant, they do not explain if there was a warrant issued and they do not dispel the reasonable perception that there is, in fact, an intention to arrest our client.
“In the light of the vague denials by the Hawks, and the silence of the NPA and its investigative directorate, it remains reasonable for our client to believe that there is, in fact, an intention to arrest him,” read the lawyer’s letter.
Nkhwashu said that, despite the authorities’ legal ability to effect an arrest, it remained important to act lawfully, not to arrest unnecessarily and to do so only for ends permitted in law.
He also condemned the conduct of the NPA and the Hawks in recent arrests involving suspects implicated in the R255 million Free State asbestos looting scheme and other cases, writing: “The modus operandi is predictable: rumours are spread around about a pending arrest, the media is mobilised and given a ‘scoop’, then the Hawks members ‘pounce on an alleged suspect’.
“The purpose of this stage-managed arrest is not to bring a suspect to court, but to embarrass and humiliate them. This is unconstitutional and unlawful. It is also pandering to a political interest, which is simply unlawful.”
Contacted for comment, Nkhwashu said yesterday that Magashule was “not immune to investigation or prosecution, and he’s going to abide by the rule of law. We don’t want to be treated as special, because we’re ordinary citizens and we just want to be treated fairly.”
He said Magashule was prepared to cooperate with any investigation or prosecution.
“People have always been making allegations in the media that there’s an investigation against us and we’re going to be arrested. We’ve always said that evidence must be brought to the authorities so that we’re able to be given a fair hearing, because this trial by media is simply unconstitutional and illegal.”
DUTY TO REPORT CORRUPTION
According to media reports, Magashule was to be charged for contravening a section of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act in that, while he was Free State premier, he failed to exercise the necessary oversight to protect the interests of government against potentially criminal conduct.
Section 34 of the act places a “duty to report corrupt transactions” on “any person who holds a position of authority and who knows, or ought reasonably to have known or suspected, that any other person has committed an offence … [Such person] must report such knowledge or suspicion or cause such knowledge or suspicion to be reported to any police official.”
Further, the act lists categories of people who can be charged for contravening its provisions, including directors-general or heads of national or provincial departments, municipal managers, senior managers in government, rectors or principals, managers, directors or secretaries of companies, executive managers of banks and CEOs.
” The purpose of this stage-managed arrest is not to bring a suspect to court, but to embarrass and humiliate them. This is unconstitutional and unlawful. It is also pandering to a political interest, which is simply unlawful
BUILDING DEFENCE FORCES
According to a law enforcement source in the Free State, ANC members implicated in corruption are creating deflections to try to avoid arrest. The source likened these delaying tactics to those used by former president Jacob Zuma.
The source said that the Hawks had planned to arrest three suspects linked to the Estina dairy farm case in the Free State. However, they were delayed by the furore surrounding the news of Magashule’s imminent arrest.
“There are three other suspects in the case who were meant to have been arrested this week, but there were some delays. There’s a pattern that [could become the norm], of people wanting to build defences in order to run away from their sins. There are similarities in this to what happened with the old man [Zuma],” he said.
The source said the mobilisation around Magashule by ANC members following last week’s arrests “was a pre-emptive move that was aimed at disrupting the process”.
He added: “When they sense what’s coming, they start to activate their structures and stir up emotions, just like the master [Zuma] did all those years ago. They create these fictitious things. Remember how the questions to Zuma were leaked before his hearing, just as things were poised to go ahead?”
LEBEYA: ‘WE DON’T DO POLITICS’
Speaking to City Press, Hawks head General Godfrey Lebeya said: “I’ll never allow the Hawks to get involved in politics and I want to affirm that we don’t take instructions from anyone. We can’t allow any political meddling in our investigations.”
Lebeya confirmed that next week, when the five people who were arrested earlier this year for the Estina case return to court, they would most likely be joined by others in the dock.
“We should have some appearances in court by next week, but there are other things that need to be done. Remember, we’re not working alone in this space, especially when it comes to prosecution. But everything is packaged now,” he said.
“There’s a [perception] that the five shouldn’t be appearing alone … We also want to be moving into the municipalities … We’re ready and it’s a matter of ensuring that we don’t make mistakes [by jumping to people at the end of the value chain],” he said.
One of the first convictions that showed the reinvigorated Hawks working with the NPA was secured last week regarding the looting of nearly R2 billion at VBS Mutual Bank.
Former VBS chief financial officer Phillip Truter was sentenced to an effective seven years in prison in a plea bargain deal that is set to blow the investigation into the looting of the now-defunct bank wide open.
Truter will provide evidence against his co-accused, who have all pleaded not guilty. As a witness, he will reveal how almost R2 billion of public money and the elderly poor’s savings were siphoned out of the bank.
Lebeya said the plea bargain was one of the state’s instruments to guarantee convictions, particularly those of powerful masterminds.
“In corruption, there are two parties: the corruptor and the corruptee. If the two decide to close ranks, it’s difficult, because who can be a witness to the fact that corruption took place?”
However, he added: “We must always make sure that both [are punished] with a prison sentence or fine. Nobody can get off scot-free.”