IFP DISPUTES REPORT THAT POWELL IS AMONG LEADERS TO BE ARRESTED
The Inkatha Freedom Party on Monday disputed a report that IFP senior member Philip Powell was among political leaders in the province who stood to be arrested by the Special Investigating Unit on charges ranging from illegal possession of arms to murder.
A Durban weekend newspaper , the Sunday Tribune, on Sunday reported that Powell and African National Congress provincial deputy chairman Zweli Mkhize were among the leaders who would be charged.
"We regard it as outrageous that the state can blatantly seek to intimidate and besmirch the good name of Mr Powell with selective leaks to the media to the effect that he is to be arrested for crimes ostensibly committed in 1993," the IFP said in a statement.
It said neither National Director of Public Prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, nor provincial director of public prosecutions, Mokotedi Mpshe, had any knowledge of the imminent arrest of Powell.
The IFP said Powell, accompanied by his lawyer, met the provincial head of the special investigating unit, Chris MacAdam, on Monday morning. Ngcuka was telephoned but he had no knowledge of the warrant of arrest for Powell.
"What has been happening with regard to Mr Powell is a flagrant abuse of the tenets of natural justice, the right to a fair trial and Mr Powell's rights, guaranteed in the Constitution.
"It is an abuse of state power to achieve party-political objectives," the IFP said.
It further said if the government had evidence against Powell he should have been charged long time ago.
Powell had indicated to MacAdam that he would fully co-operate with any police investigation.
Meanwhile, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal called on Safety and Security Minister Sydney Mufamadi to ensure that the investigating unit was cleared of all possible third force infiltration.
The ANC was responding to the report that Mkhize was among the leaders to be arrested.
It said the party would accept and co-operate fully with any investigation that would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators of violence.
"The ANC believes that nobody is above the law. That is the reason why the ANC is on record requesting that a commission of inquiry be instituted to investigate all allegations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission," the ANC said in a statement.
The ANC would remain vigilant to ensure its leaders were not investigated, arrested and charged on trumped charges in an attempt to balance the investigation of well-known warlords in other political parties.
The New National Party strongly reacted to the issue and called on the police and justice system to act strongly and professionally on the matter.
"We can not allow allegations and counter allegations to be made in the media by political parties on matters of this nature. Any person implicated in fomenting violence in our province or responsible for lives been taken shall be dealt with immediately, as nobody is above the law," the NNP said.
Ngcuka's spokesman Sipho Ngwema told Sapa there were prominent political leaders who were being investigated in connection with cases ranging from gunrunning to murder.
He said no names had been given to the media and no warrants of arrest had been issued as the investigation was still continuing.
"I do not know who gave these names to the media. What I know is that arrests will be made soon," Ngwema said.
Sunday Tribune editor Peter Davis said it was the duty of newspapers to inform readers on matters that concerned them deeply, such as investigations on serious charges of prominent politicians in the province by the office of Director of Public Prosecutions.
He condemned the ANC for alleging that the report was made by two controversial journalists.
"If the ANC is implying that Sam Sole (political reporter) and I - the only "whites" who have anything to do with the article - are agents of "sinister apartheid security forces" then that is both untrue and defamatory and we reserve our position on this matter," Davis said.