Former Hawks head Berning Mthandazo Ntlemeza is back in law enforcement, but as a detective for hire.
Ntlemeza, who was booted out of the top Hawks post after his appointment was nullified by the Pretoria High Court, now owns a private investigation and security company.
The company, called Itucare, which, according to company registration documents, is based at an address in Lonehill, northern Johannesburg, was registered in November last year and offers private investigation services.
Ntlemeza said this week that Paul O’Sullivan and former Gauteng police commissioner Mzwandile Petros, both of whom own private investigation firms, will soon face stiff competition from him.
“I am an investigator and those who thought it was the end of me when I was removed from the Hawks will be surprised. I have many years’ experience in the detective service and will continue with investigations in my private capacity.”
Ntlemeza has started distributing his business cards offering services such as tracing, undercover work, polygraph testing, fraud investigations and private protection services.
“As the company slogan says, we investigate the alternative and I will be offering my services to members of the public and government,” he said.
Asked why people should hire him, Ntlemeza boasted about his experience and the achievements which he listed on his CV. He highlighted his membership of the detective team that investigated the attempted coup against then Transkei leader General Bantu Holomisa in 1991. Ntlemeza’s most recent listed achievement is while he was Hawks head and concerns being able to solve political killings after arresting at least 11 suspects in one case.
Although it has been more than a year since Ntlemeza was removed from office after his standoff with former police minister Fikile Mbalula, the 61-year-old is yet to let go of the past. “You know, Mbalula accused me and others of having plotted to kill him. That still offends me even today. I will never forgive him.”
Ntlemeza’s departure followed a judgment in the Pretoria High Court in which Judge Elias Matojane ruled that Ntlemeza lacked integrity and was not fit to hold public office, after finding he had lied under oath when he submitted an affidavit in the labour court matter involving former Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya.
After a second high court order that Ntlemeza be removed from office, Mbalula reversed his predecessor Nathi Nhleko’s decision to challenge the order in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Ntlemeza and Mbalula clashed after that, with Ntlemeza insisting he was still in charge of the Hawks and ignoring Mbalula’s letter instructing him to “hand in the tools of the trade” and “vacate the office”.
“I have left the police service and I am my own boss now. I don’t have to account to anyone,” he said this week. “All I am doing now is to focus on my business.”
Ntlemeza was appointed in 2013 by then police Minister Nhleko who ignored a short list of five highly qualified police officers when he appointed him.