Durban - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s head is on the block, if the mood and comments made by the law enforcement agencies in Durban on Monday night are anything to go by.
At a safety and security stakeholders’ gathering at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on Monday, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko launched a tirade of attacks at those “spreading falsehoods”, suggesting the police had an agenda to pursue certain individuals and groups.
In a speech that could be interpreted as veiled attacks on Gordhan and his defenders, he also came to the defence of Hawks head Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza, saying law enforcement agents would pursue the application of the constitution and law even if it meant the heavens fell.
This comes at a time when the country is divided on the investigation pursued by the Hawks against Gordhan and former employees of Sars in connection with the establishment of a “rogue unit”.
This has led to sympathy for Gordhan who some feel is being persecuted because he is a stumbling block in part of the broader capture of the State.
Addressing stakeholders on the mandate of his office, Nhleko said he had heard a number of articulations about police work and how people “perceived certain things”.
“There are statements that are completely unbelievable, in fact, quite shocking,” he said.
Nhleko made reference to those who spoke against either the constitution or liberation movement and at the same time pretended not to speak for either.
“Essentially, they speak with forked tongues.
“And it is also commonplace that those who occupy leadership positions in society would naturally be joined by their constituencies so as to amplify the voice of that discomfort.
“Some spread falsehoods, suggesting that police have an agenda to pursue certain individuals and or groups.”
He spoke of how they had fought for equality before the law during the liberation and how it had made its way into the constitution.
“This is what our people fought and died for. Not some elitist and colonial subterfuge from true equality,” Nhleko said.
“There is also shameful failure by some prominent people in our country to appreciate that justice is the foundation of peace and that peace is a prerequisite for development.
“They speak of the police as if the police are criminal justice itself,” Nhleko said.
“They speak of public finance as if they are speaking of the economy. They fail to understand injustice and inequality are sure ingredients for broader social instability.”
Nhleko insisted that the police could not be faulted for cases opened at police stations.
“The police are duty-bound by law to investigate if a case is opened. So how can we have an agenda against you?” he asked.
“Must we say this person is a celebrity so we shall ignore the fundamental clause on equality before the law?”
“That would never happen in our lifetime in the land of our forefathers,” Nhleko said.
Ntlemeza sketched the nature of work done by his Hawks elite unit. He hastened to say they not only clamped down on government departments but business as well.
“Hawks don’t open cases. Cases are opened at police stations. They investigate without fear. They fear nobody. There is no fear in the Hawks,” he said.