How Nhleko gave Ntlemeza his job

2017-01-22 06:10
Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza (Netwerk24)

Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza (Netwerk24)

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Police Minister Nathi Nhleko allegedly ignored a short list of five highly qualified police officers when he went ahead and appointed Major-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza as head of priority crimes investigation unit the Hawks.

After the first process was concluded in 2013, Nhleko readvertised the job and hired Ntlemeza.

No explanation was provided to the short-listed candidates for the reasons the post was readvertised, said two of the applicants City Press interviewed.

A confidential information note, dated December 2013, details the short list of candidates for the Hawks post.

The five were selected over 22 other applicants, including Ntlemeza, who did not make the short list.

They were Major-General Oswald Reddy, a graduate of prestigious US university Harvard; Major-General Liziwe Ntshinga; Lieutenant-General Lebeoana Tsumane; Major-General Jan Mabula, the former North West Hawks head; and former Lieutenant-General Dr Godfrey Lebeya.

They had been interviewed by a panel which included former director-general of the State Security Agency (SSA) Sonto Kudjoe; Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni, defence intelligence head Mduduzi Nyembe and SSA corporate services head JSC Mosikare.

The interviews were conducted to replace the then incumbent, Anwa Dramat, whose contract was coming to an end.

In January 2015, Nhleko asked Riah Phiyega, who was national police commissioner at the time, for Dramat’s appointment letter as well as the names of those who had applied for the job in 2013.

Phiyega responded with the information on January 8.

At that time, Ntlemeza was acting in the post after Dramat was suspended for his alleged involvement in the illegal rendition of Zimbabwean nationals.

The post was then readvertised in 2015 and Ntlemeza was short-listed alongside five other candidates, including Major-General Tebello Mosikili, a cluster commander in Gauteng; Yoliswa Siyotula, from the Eastern Cape Hawks; and Johan Booysen, former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head.

The short-listing panel was chaired by Nhleko and consisted of Justice Minister Michael Masutha, State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu and senior Hawks officer Major-General Yolisa Matakata.

Nhleko took more than a year to formally inform Parliament that he had given Ntlemeza the job.

Phiyega was unavailable for comment this week.

A senior security cluster official told City Press:

“High Court Judge Elias Matojane described Ntlemeza as biased and dishonest. But the minister continued to appoint him.

"He failed to make it to the first short list, but the post was readvertised, and later he was short-listed and got the job.”

Former Hawks head Booysen, who at the time reported to Ntlemeza as acting head, was – as mentioned above – among the short-listed candidates.

He said this week: “When we went for interviews he [Ntlemeza] was not even there. He did not even attend the interviews like all of us.”

Booysen said he was shocked to hear Ntlemeza got the job because he told them at a provincial commanders’ meeting in Limpopo that he did not apply for it.

“Shortly after I applied for the post, Ntlemeza suspended me. I challenged the suspension in court and got reinstated,” he said.

Civil rights groups Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation are currently challenging Ntlemeza’s appointment in the High Court in Pretoria on the grounds that he is unfit to hold office, following Matojane’s ruling.

The appointments of Ntlemeza and others are now being investigated by police watchdog the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

Nhleko’s spokesperson, Sandile Ngidi, said the police minister had no knowledge of the first interview process, which took place under his predecessor, Nathi Mthethwa.

“The minister has full confidence in General Ntlemeza,” Ngidi said, adding that Nhleko sat on the selection panel in accordance with the Police Act.

Ntlemeza’s spokesperson, Hangwani Mulaudzi, said Ntlemeza was a decorated officer whose “policing contribution was recognised even before he was appointed as acting national head [of the Hawks] in December 2014 and permanent national head [in September 2015].”

Mulaudzi said senior appointments were the responsibility of government and that “Ntlemeza will not satisfy his many detractors by succumbing to any undue pressure mounted against him”.

“He is committed and remains focussed on the execution of his mandate. South Africans must rest assured that the Hawks will continue to contribute towards the creation of a safe and secure environment, fighting serious crime without fear or favour.”

Read more on:    hawks  |  nathi nhleko  |  politics

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