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Ntlemeza calls on Parly to allocate Hawks a separate budget

The Hawks get one percent of the R16 billion budget allocated to the police’s detective services programme.

YouTube screengrab of head of the Hawks Major General Berning Ntlemeza.

CAPE TOWN - Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza has told Parliament the special corruption-busting unit's budget should not be tied to the South African Police Service (Saps).

Ntlemeza is hoping budgetary autonomy will show the unit is independent of the Saps, an issue at the heart of previous court cases involving businessman Hugh Glenister and the Helen Suzman Foundation.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, widely known as the Hawks, replaced elite-crime fighting unit, the Scorpions, which was disbanded in 2008.

The Hawks unit gets one percent of the R16 billion budget allocated to the police's detective services programme.

Ntlemeza told Members of Parliament (MPs) today that the unit needs a budget independent of the Saps.

"I would propose that we try to move towards a separate [budget] vote."

The Hawks boss says this will strengthen the unit's autonomy.

Democratic Alliance MP Zak Mbhele, wanted assurances from him that the unit was not operating as a "hit squad".

"Is the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigations free to execute their mandate freely, fairly and impartially?"

Mbhele is worried that the conduct of the Hawks, since Ntlemeza's appointment, has shown it's an increasingly politically compromised and 'captured' entity.

Ntlemeza has been in the spotlight lately because of his public spat with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.