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Ntlemeza, Nhleko try to keep a lid on probe linked to Gordhan

Both have not answered questions about whether they believe Pravin Gordhan met yesterday’s ‘deadline’.

FILE: Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza and his political head, Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko, are now trying to keep a lid on a probe linked to the finance minister after a series of media leaks.

Both have dodged questions from journalists about whether Pravin Gordhan had met yesterday's widely-reported deadline to respond to questions about a so-called rogue unit at the revenue service.

A letter with 27 questions addressed to Gordhan from the Hawks and a subsequent follow-up missive were leaked to the media, exposing tensions between Ntlemeza and Gordhan.

Coincidentally, while the conduct of the Hawks is under intense public scrutiny, both Nhleko and Ntlemeza participated in an event today to raise awareness about the office responsible for keeping the crime-fighting unit in check.

Ntlemeza was the first to dodge questions from journalists wanting to ask him about the leaked letters.

He was shielded by his spokesperson.

Nhleko also didn't have much to add.

"Again, I don't talk about non-issues, including matters of operations. Police operations are police operations."

Gordhan has complained about the leaked letters, likening it to harassment tactics of the apartheid police.

The Office of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) Judge probes complaints against the Hawks by members of the public, and complaints by the Hawks of political interference.

Retired Judge Essa Moosa, who heads the office, was appointed in 2013.

He has a R5.5 million budget.

Since 2014, his office has been driving awareness campaigns in several provinces about the work of the DPCI Judge.

Moosa says it's not in the interest of justice for Gordhan and Ntlemeza to quarrel in public.

He says issues relating to Hawks investigations should be aired in court, not in the media.

He also says no complaints have been brought to his office in relation to the tensions between Gordhan and Ntlemeza.

When asked about the spat between the pair, Moosa said his office is open to receive complaints on the matter and any other issues related to the crime-fighting unit.

"I can't tell the minister what to do, he must obviously be aware of our existence."

Just days Before Gordhan delivered the budget in Parliament last month, the Hawks sent a letter to him with over a dozen questions to answer, in relation to a probe into the so-called rogue unit at Sars.

In response to the missive, Gordhan wanted to know on what authority the Hawks was relying to question him.