Nhleko 'ignored' rulings on Ntlemeza, court finds

2017-03-17 16:10
Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza (Netwerk24)

Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza (Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - Police Minister Nathi Nhleko ignored two court judgments which found Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza lacked integrity and honesty, when he appointed him head of the elite police unit.

"It was not for the minister, nor was it enough for the minister, to read the said judgments and formulate his opinion without placing them before the interview panel," Judge David Mabuse said in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday.

The findings in both judgments constituted ''direct evidence'' that Ntlemeza lacked the requisite honesty, integrity, and conscientiousness to hold public office.

"The minister simply brushed aside a considered opinion of a superior court," Mabuse said.

He declared Ntlemeza's appointment unlawful and invalid and set it aside.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said they were studying the judgment.

The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and Freedom Under Law had brought the application. The HSF asked the court to refer the appointment back to a selection panel for a new candidate to be chosen.

Ntlemeza was appointed as national head of the Hawks in September 2015. In November 2015, the HSF wrote to Nhleko asking for the reasons for his decision.

They asked for evidence that statutory requirements had been followed, and for copies of documentation used in making the decision.

In March 2016, the HSF received a letter from Nhleko containing full reasons for Ntlemeza's appointment, and his CV.

Judgments

Two judgments handed down ahead of his appointment led to the HSF's challenge.

In January 2015, Ntlemeza suspended Gauteng Hawks head, Major-General Shadrack Sibiya, for his involvement in the alleged illegal rendition of Zimbabwean prisoners in 2010. Sibiya challenged the decision in the high court.

In February 2015, North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria Judge Elias Matojane overturned the suspension. He said the decision was taken in bad faith.

Ntlemeza applied for leave to appeal against the judgment. The high court found he had withheld information from the court and police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, which could have enabled the court to make a proper assessment.

In the judgment for leave to appeal, the court found Ntlemeza lacked integrity and honesty.

In an affidavit explaining why he appointed Ntlemeza, Nhleko said he had been satisfied with Ntlemeza's explanation regarding the Matojane judgments and admitted he had not placed them before the interview panel.

Nhleko's spokesperson Sandile Ngidi said the minister was studying the judgment and would respond within a reasonable time. Ngidi said he doubted the judgment meant "Ntlemeza must just go".

"The minister will have to make a call after he has studied the judgment," said Ngidi.

African National Congress spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party trusted that Friday's judgment had brought the matter to a close.

Read more on:    hawks  |  berning ntlemeza  |  nathi nhleko  |  pretoria  |  corruption  |  judiciary

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