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ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga lied when he said the chairman of the joint standing committee on intelligence, Cecil Burgess, never wrote a letter calling for the removal of a detective investigating suspended crime intelligence chief Richard Mdluli.
Motshekga made the statement while rejecting calls by DA chief whip Watty Watson to suspend Burgess.
Watson had accused Burgess of trying to influence an investigation into alleged criminal conduct by Mdluli and the division’s finance chief, Major-General Solly Lazarus.
He had then written a letter to National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu and National Council of Provinces chairman Johannes Mahlangu, asking that Burgess be suspended.
This was after an internal police investigation report by Colonel Kobus Roelofse, of the police’s anti-corruption task team, found that Burgess had written a letter to then acting head of crime intelligence Major-General Vele Matshatshe, demanding that the investigator in the Mdluli matter, Major-General Mark Hankel, be removed from the case. Hankel is the officer responsible for a damning report on Mdluli, including allegations of widespread abuse of a police slush fund.
Motshekga denied that Burgess had written the letter, while responding to calls by the DA to suspend Burgess.
“Mr Burgess has never written a letter calling for the removal of Major-General (Mark) Hankel or interfered in Lieutenant-General’s (Mdluli’s) investigations as alleged by Mr Watson,” Motshekga said in a statement last Thursday.
But The Star has seen Burgess’s letter addressed to Matshatshe, in which he clearly calls for Hankel’s removal from his position.
The letter, dated November 2 last year and marked as confidential, is under the headline “removal of major-general H Hankel.
It reads: “Appointment of new co-ordinator between Crime Intelligence and Division of Priority Crime in relation to information which the DPCI (the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation) may require, with regard to investigations in respect of Crime Intelligence matters.”
It concludes with the message: “You are informed, as a matter of urgency, to remove General Hankel from (his position).”
It bears the name “CV Burgess, MP, chairman: Joint Steering Committee on Intelligence”, as its author.
The letter was written just after allegations involving the slush fund and the plot to unseat Mdluli surfaced.
Confronted about the contents of the letter on Wednesday, Motshekga backtracked and said Burgess had written the letter with the DA’s knowledge.
“He wrote the letter to give effect to the decision of a portfolio committee in which the DA is a member,” Motshekga said.
“They (The DA) have changed their minds because they are party to the decision of the committee which gave rights to the letter. They should go (back) to the committee. They can’t go out of the parliamentary process.”
Watson said Motshekga was lying.
“I was never part of that. I was never involved,” Watson said.
Watson added that the DA felt vindicated by Burgess’s letter and reiterated the call for him to resign.
“It shows they are busy with a cover-up. It also confirms that Burgess is not fit to lead the intelligence committee. He has lost his integrity and credibility. One wonders who is giving instructions to Parliament not to admit that Burgess was involved.”
The Roelofse report stated that Lazarus had approached Burgess on a number of occasions, without notifying his superiors, in an attempt to convince the intelligence committee chairman that the probe into the slush funds abuse “compromises national security”.