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Cope wants Hawks head suspended 'immediately'

Officials have laid charges of perjury against Berning Ntlemeza at the Brooklyn Police Station in PTA.

FILE. A YouTube screengrab of head of Hawks Major General Berning Ntlemeza.

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of the People (Cope) says it wants Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza to be suspended immediately after its officials laid charges of perjury against him at the Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria.

The party's Dennis Bloem says the charge of perjury has been laid following a High Court judge's ruling that Ntlemeza lied under oath during investigations into his predecessor Anwa Dramat.

Cope says it hopes Ntlemeza's suspension will draw him away from a public spat between the Hawks and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The row escalated last night with the Hawks saying it would use its constitutional powers to ensure Gordhan answered questions about an alleged spy unit within the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

Bloem says Ntlemeza does not deserve to lead the crime fighting unit.

"He has lied under oath. That is why we, as Cope, felt this is a very serious case. We can't have a general of the Hawks where the judge is labelling him a liar."

Meanwhile, Gordhan says he's told his lawyers to prepare an adequate response after the Hawks said he had missed a deadline to respond to questions about a rogue unit within Sars, and it was preparing to exercise its constitutional powers.

Gordhan has previously said he won't respond to the Hawks' questions because he wants clarity about what they actually want, and he needs to know if they're investigating a particular offence.

IMPACT ON ECONOMY

Earlier today, the chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC)'s Economic Transformation Commission, Enoch Godongwana, said he was worried about the impact the fight between the Hawks and Gordhan was having on the economy, and that the Hawks could have managed the situation differently.

The markets don't seem to like the debacle - the rand took a hard knock and is now trading at just under the R16 to the dollar after the Hawks issued its statement yesterday.