Judgment on Hawks boss matter reserved

The North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday reserved judgment on an urgent application brought by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) to interdict Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza from exercising any duties as head of the specialised crime-fighting unit.

After carefully listening to submissions made by the three parties – David Unterhalter, SC, for the applicant, advocate William Mukhari for the minister of police and advocate Pule Seleka for Ntlemeza – on the day two of the hearing, Judge Niel Tuchten said he would deliver his judgment on a yet to be announced date.

At the centre of the legal battle is the lawfulness of Ntlemeza’s appointment as head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), more commonly known as the Hawks. Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko appointed him despite remarks by Judge Elias Matojane in February last year that Ntlemeza was “biased and dishonest” and lacking in “integrity and honour”.

HSF director Francis Antonie said Judge Matojane’s comments had direct relevance to the question of whether Ntlemeza was fit and proper to head the directorate, which is responsible for crucial investigations in the country. He said it was for this reason they sought legal intervention, citing Nhleko’s “ignorance” and his delay in addressing their concerns about the Hawks head’s appointment since November last year.

Antonie remained adamant that Ntlemeza’s appointment was unlawful and that he was “unfit for public office”.

“I was dismayed about the time lapse. We have been in constant correspondence with the minister and his office since the 2nd of November (2015). This has been dragging on for some time. This has been an issue of the ministry delaying forever,” he said.

“We are concerned about Ntlemeza occupying the office because a judge has already ruled at least once that this man is unfit for public office. He lied under oath. What sort of people who lie under oath still occupy public office?” said Antonie. – African News Agency (ANA)

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