Johannesburg - Parliament and police unions have lauded the move by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) to suspend the crime-busting unit's Major-General Zinhle Mnonopi in the wake of allegations by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas that she tried to force him to sign a false statement.
Police portfolio committee chairperson Francois Beukman said the proactive steps taken by Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya to suspend Mnonopi were necessary and appropriate.
“The Hawks should be at the forefront of dealing with organised commercial crime and serious economic crime investigations. Key in this endeavour would be to strengthen the commercial crime division of the Hawks in terms of leadership and critical skills.”
Beukman said Judge Frans Kgomo, appointed to oversee the Hawks, had an important role to deal with serious complaints.
Members of the public who had their rights negatively affected by illegal conduct or improper investigation by members of the Hawks should without delay lay a complaint with the judge, he said.
“The Office of the Hawks Judge is a crucial oversight institution in the criminal justice system.”
The Hawks will brief the committee on the current status of the complaints received by his office and the processing of investigations.
On Sunday, anti-corruption lobby group Corruption Watch said the government should not wait until the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture finalised its work before taking action against those implicated in wrongdoing.
“There is no reason why anybody should wait for the commission to take action. Where there is evidence of criminality, the criminal justice system should take its course,” Corruption Watch director David Lewis said.
Lewis said Mnonopi’s suspension was to be welcomed. “What Jonas said about her does not surprise me at all. This was Hawks under (Berning) Ntlemeza that was thoroughly corrupt and compromised. It is appropriate that she is suspended and be charged with obstruction of justice.”
Both police trade unions also welcomed the suspension of Mnonopi, saying that whether she was a union member or not, she should answer.
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) general secretary Nkosinathi Theledi said if there were allegations, Mnonopi must answer.
“Indeed, the suspension is a right process while she is being investigated. Regardless, due processes must follow.”
South African Police Union president Mpho Kwinika said Mnonopi must face the music like any other police officer. “We don't condone what she did: incapacity and ill-discipline. She must face the music. All junior officers face consequences, so she can't be immune to that.”