New Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, is now set on cleaning up the public image of the Hawks.
This comes after yesterday’s court ruling that former head, Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza, should be dismissed.
Mbalula withdrew his court application to appeal against the court’s decision the day before.
The court found that Ntlemeza’s appointment was unlawful and he had acted in a manner that was untruthful.
During a press briefing on Thursday, Mbalula said he had met with all major players in the South African Police Service and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to foster good working relations and work together to combat crime.
“We want to change the perception that the Hawks is useless and turns a blind eye towards corruption,” he said. “We want to improve staff relations so that we can get down to the business of fighting crime.”
Mbalula appointed Hawks Deputy Commissioner Yolisa Matakata as the acting head of the unit until further notice and stated that they will make a permanent appointment by the end of the year.
“We want to fill all positions and make them permanent,” he said. “We don’t want there to be anymore acting positions.”
Despite his commitment to end corruption, Mbalula had great praise for General Acting Police Commissioner General Khomotso Phahlane, who has been in the news for his lavish lifestyle.
“We have a good working relationship and I am satisfied with his conduct,” he said.
Instead he blamed the media for having an obsession with Phahlane and said the media also has a political agenda.
During the press briefing there was also lack of clarity on whether Ntlemeza took early retirement before the court ruling. If he did, he would cash in handsomely from his service as Hawks head.
However, Mbalula deflected the question saying Ntlemeza will have to speak for himself.
“We can only abide by the court ruling and the court says we do not owe him any settlement,” he said.
South Africans will now have to wait and see if Matakata will pick up the baton and help Mbalula clean up the image of the Hawks, and fulfil Mbalula’s wish to “squeeze out criminals so that they have nowhere to hide.”
However, it is unclear at this stage which outstanding investigations Matakata will be looking into and if any investigations under Ntlemeza will be reviewed.