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Judge slams Hawks for abusing power – Latest in Norma vs Malusi Gibaba case

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The two officers who arrested Nomachule “Norma ” Mngoma “abused their powers and position” in the Hawks, said Pretoria high court judge Cassim Sardiwalla yesterday.

The aim was “presumably to avenge a wrong or perceived wrong” on the part of her husband, former finance minister Malusi Gigaba. It was not for any lawful purpose, he said.

The court order declared that her arrest was unlawful. It also declared that the decision to confiscate her cellphones and laptops was unlawful.

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Mngoma was arrested in July last year after damaging a Mercedes-Benz G wagon that was being driven by her husband by repeatedly scratching it with a vegetable peeler.

There was also an allegation – leading to a charge of crimen injuria – that she had sent an insulting text message to a friend of Gigaba’s.

She is due to appear in court on the charges today. Yesterday’s order declared her arrest warrant and its execution unlawful, but the judgment did not deal with the lawfulness of the prosecution.

Sardiwalla was scathing in his critique of the actions of Hawks Capt Kenneth Mavuso and Sgt Norton Ndabambi. He said their explanation for the Hawks’ involvement in the matter was not sustainable.

The Hawks are mandated to investigate serious and high priority crimes. Mavuso said in court papers he and Ndabambi were both members of a special task team created to deal specifically with cases of conspiracy to commit murder.

“During June 2020 the former minister … laid a complaint under oath that he has reason to believe, and that he had been informed, that there is a conspiracy to kill him. This complaint was directed to the task team to investigate.”

When further allegations were made, it “was logical our task team decided to investigate these offences … to establish whether there was any link to the complaint of conspiracy to commit murder”.

But Sardiwalla said the Hawks’ evidence on this score, and on how Mngoma was related to it all, was “vague” and there was no evidence it was sanctioned by Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya.

“It is clear that this is in fact a domestic dispute between two prominent members of society. However the offences are not deserving of the high priority of the Hawks,” he said.

Instead, it “speaks to the abuse of power by Mr Gigaba as a former minister in using the state administration for his own personal benefit with an intention to intimidate his wife in a domestic spat”.

He said the officers obtained an arrest warrant on a Thursday but waited until Friday afternoon to arrest Mngoma. This “only further demonstrates the abuse of power … Their actions ensured the applicant could not immediately apply for bail, with the hopes she would spend the weekend in a jail cell in the middle of winter during a pandemic.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that the first batch of 80,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccination doses will arrive in the country next week.

Ramaphosa said further consignments would arrive over the next four weeks, with 500,000 J&J vaccines arriving in the next month. In total, SA had secured 9m doses of the J&J vaccine, he said.

The president was speaking during his fifth State of the Nation Address in Cape Town last night.

Ramaphosa said an “unrelenting and comprehensive response” to overcome the coronavirus was fundamental to the nation’s recovery. He said all provinces had rollout plans in place as the first vaccines come through.

“This year, we must do everything in our means to contain and overcome this pandemic. This means intensifying our prevention efforts and strengthening our health system,” said Ramaphosa.

“It also means that we must undertake a huge vaccination programme to save lives and dramatically reduce infections across the population.”

Health minister Zweli Mkhize announced earlier this week that one of the vaccines that SA had procured, AstraZeneca, offered minimal protection from mild to moderate infection by the 501Y.v2 variant, which is dominant in this country.

However, experts said it was likely that it would be effective against severe Covid-19 illness, as it was similar in many ways to the J&J vaccine.

Ramaphosa said these findings has significant implications for the pace, design and sequencing of our vaccine programme.

“While it should not delay the start of the vaccination programme by much, it will affect the choice of vaccines and the manner of their deployment,” Ramaphosa said.

The first phase of the vaccination programme, which is targeted at health and other frontline workers, will now use the J&J vaccine, which has been shown to be effective against the 501Y.V2 variant.

In addition, SA has secured 12m vaccine doses from the global Covax facility.

Pfizer has also committed 20m vaccine doses, commencing with deliveries at the end of the first quarter. “We are continuing our engagements with all the vaccine manufacturers to ensure that we secure sufficient quantities of vaccines that are suitable to our conditions,” Ramaphosa said.

He acknowledged that this was no ordinary year, and his speech was no ordinary Sona.

He said government had four overriding priorities this year, and defeating the coronavirus pandemic was the first.

Accelerating economic recovery, implementing economic reforms to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth, and fighting corruption and strengthening the state were the other focus areas for the year.

– Sowetan



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