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The Hawks swoop – The recent arrests of high-level government figures have been splendid to watch

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The Hawks swoop – The recent arrests of high-level government figures have been splendid to watch

9th October 2020


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MR President, I feel hawkish this week. My hawkishness is all thanks to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, otherwise known as the Hawks.

For a long time, I got a sense that the much-vaunted Hawks were nothing but orphaned eyas. Perhaps the problem was the size of our Hawks as larger hawks eat larger prey.


Not since the days of the Directorate of Special Operations, famously known as the Scorpions, have I felt so delighted. The Scorpions were an agile unit that had a poisonous sting at the end of its jointed tail. If you don’t believe me, ask Tony Yengeni, the Luthuli House chief pensioner and the ANC’s newish anticorruption head. The audacity!

Because of the Hawks’ recent fervent activity as they deployed their talons to good use, I threw away half of my antidepressants in celebration. Perhaps not a wise idea. I haven’t had a wink of sleep since last week. I clutch my cell-phone, always refreshing my news feed.


The new craze among my alcohol guzzling mates is news-site hopping to find the latest piece of news on the Hawks’ novel policing (raids, arrests, search and seizure) activities. Our time-honoured tradition of bar hopping and yellow-bone hunting is suspended until the first Hawks-inspired conviction or the arrest of Ace Magashule, whichever occurs first.

The Hawks, like real birds of prey, circle in rising thermal air currents to stay aloft without expending much energy. They are not famous for nimble hunting but are known for their ambushing. They usually perch in a hidden location and look for prey. They wait until their target is unaware of their presence, then quickly swoop down and seize it. This perching business can take up to what feels like a lifetime, as we know, 10 years maximum.

Our Hawks have been circling above the hoodlums without any strike since their premature birth a decade ago. They must be starving.

Of course, the political gangsters worked during that period without ceasing, and in groups, while the Hawks are by nature monogamous and diurnal birds. That is, until last week when they decided to migrate to our summer climate for mating purposes with the NPA’s Investigative Directorate, Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Special Investigating Unit.

It was splendid to watch them hunt as a group (or was it a foursome?) and work beyond regular hours. No matter how high the tenderpreneurs fly, the Hawks seem to have set the trap on the ground. From the high humidity of Limpopo to the sunny Free State, up to the balmy nights of Gauteng, and the hot and humid summer of KwaZulu-Natal, the Hawks swooped on unsuspecting thugs. It was quite the spectacle to watch, enough to woo audiences for a yet-to-be-launched reality television show. Like the real Hawks, they pursued their prey on the ground by half running and half flying, using all the state resources at their disposal.

Mr President, what warms my heart is seeing the party bigwigs such as former MP Vincent Smith and former heads of departments being held accountable.

It was with trepidation though, that I saw my acquaintance, the former KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni, arraigned before the courts in connection with the R47 million 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup accommodation scandal.

I couldn’t help but notice that it seems that the office of police commissioner in this country is jinxed. It’s a gallery of rogues, from Jackie Selebi to Kgomotso Phahlane and Riah Phiyega, the “Butcher of Marikana”.

Days earlier, the Hawks had cleaned up the asbestos mess in the Free State, netting the former Free State Department of Human Settlements head Nthimotse Mokhesi and Magashule’s BFF, Blackhead boss Edwin Sodi, among others.

The arrest of former Msunduzi municipal manager Thabane Zulu (former Robben Island prisoner) means that time is up for corrupt ANC-connected senior civil servants. It is about time. The state capture of the head honchos who got involved in malfeasance has had a chilling effect on the minnows inside and outside the public service.

The Hawks are reputed to be the ultimate equalisers of the natural ecosystems as they often regulate the populations of their prey species, and thus contribute to healthy ecosystems.

Till next week my man, in the meantime, I feel slight dizziness. It often happens after a prolonged period of unadulterated happiness. I need to slow down. I can keep up with the speed of the Hawks. “Send me.”

This Letter to Mahlamba Ndlopfu is written by Bhekisisa Mncube, a Zulu ambassador based in Pretoria. He is also an author of the Love Diary of a Zulu Boy (memoir) and former senior Witness (Media24) political journalist.

This opinion piece was first published in the Witness.


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