Phosa vs Yacoob: Ipid should probe politicians having Hawks in their pocket

Mathews Phosa should have filed a complaint with the police, instead of calling up a member of the Hawks to have a phone call traced, experts say.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) should look into Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation officials who seem to be at the beck and call of politicians and abuse state resources for personal favours, said legal experts.

The latest politician to reveal how he benefited from being able to call on favours from the directorate, commonly known as the Hawks, was former ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa.

Phosa casually admitted to having called a “Colonel Mhlanga” to trace an unknown number from which he had received an abusive phone call about the ANC’s step-aside resolution.

ALSO READ: Phosa and Yacoob resolve their spat over ANC legal opinion

“I telephoned Colonel Mhlanga of the Hawks. I didn’t find him. I sent him a message and I sent him the number, which we traced to [former Constitutional Court justice] Judge [Zak] Yacoob’s number. I have a screenshot of that,” Phosa explained in an interview on NewzRoom Afrika on Monday.

ALSO READ: Phosa and Yacoob resolve their spat over ANC legal opinion

Instead of using his political clout, Phosa should rather have laid a charge and requested the Hawks to investigate it, said legal expert and director of Accountability Now, advocate Paul Hoffman.

“In this case, he presumably wanted to lay a charge of harassment and crimen injuria and basically asked the Hawks to investigate it, because it’s something which would fall within their scope.”

Phosa should have rather gone to an ordinary police station, as a confrontational phone call was hardly a priority crime for the Hawks to investigate, said Hoffman.

“He might be abusing his power to use the specialist machinery of state, the highly qualified Hawks investigators to investigate a petty criminal complaint. Those sorts of complaints should go to their local police station,” he said.

Attorney Ulrich Roux agreed, saying Hawks officials doing favours for politicians is unlawful, as they are only allowed to investigate matters if there was a proper charge and case number.

“The Hawks are not there to perform favours. It is abuse of their position as both politicians and the Hawks. Complaints must be made with Ipid and they must investigate the Colonel [Mhlanga] and Parliament should also investigate politicians.”

In response, the Hawks said they did not arbitrarily trace a number at Phosa’s behest.

“It should be taken into cognisance that no member of the directorate can verify a phone without permission by a court, which will seek fulfilment of certain requirements,” Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said in a statement.

Mogale added that Phosa had contacted “Colonel Mhlanga” because he was handling another case for Phosa.

“It can be confirmed that Dr Mathews Phosa contacted the colonel relating to this matter as he is investigating a different matter for the same complainant. The colonel advised Dr Phosa that a case must be registered at the police station.

“The Hawks is not investigating any case nor will we take this docket if a case is opened and handled at the station level.”

Phosa not the first to abuse his access

Former cabinet minister Malusi Gigaba was another politician recently accused of abusing state resources on several occasions for his own personal benefits.

In her testimony before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture last week, his estranged wife Norma Mngoma narrated how Hawks officials arrived at her home and demanded her phone and electronic devices, claiming that they were investigating a WhatsApp message she had sent to Gigaba’s family.

ALSO READ: Norma airs Malusi Gigaba’s dirty laundry – all 100 suits’ worth

This visit came after she refused to hand over her electronic devices to an IT expert which Gigaba had instructed to wipe any information related to the Guptas, she said.

When the Hawks returned again to her home, rather than returning all devices, Mngoma said she was instead arrested for allegedly damaging a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon worth more than R3 million.

She said she only received her phone after her court appearance the following Monday, with all Gupta-related information wiped off.

Gigaba was found by the North Gauteng High Court to have abused his power, as Mngoma’s arrest by the Hawks was ruled unlawful.

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