PRETORIA – Following the High Court’s ruling on Friday, South Africa’s top anti-corruption and crime fighting unit, the Hawks, is without a head.
A full bench of the High Court in Pretoria ruled that Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s 2015 decision to appoint Berning Ntlemeza to lead the unit be set aside.
Lobby groups Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation brought the application based on a previous ruling, which found Ntlemeza lacked integrity and was dishonest.
The court ruled that earlier judgments were replete with the findings of dishonesty and mala fides against Ntlemeza.
It says findings constitutes direct evidence that Ntlemeza lacks the requisite honesty, integrity and conscientiousness to occupy any public office, let only head of the Hawks.
Attorney Vlad Movshovich says the Hawks is currently without a head.
“Lieutenant-General Ntlemeza’s tenure as National Head of the Hawks is at an end. The effect of setting aside is that retrospectively to 10th September 2015, his appointment was at all times unlawful.”
The police portfolio committee has summoned Minister Nhleko to explain how he is going to respond to the ruling which his office says he’s still studying.
PARLY TO SUMMON NHLEKO
The parliamentary portfolio committee said Nhleko will be summoned to a special committee meeting to explain what steps will be taken following Friday’s scathing judgment which has set aside his decision to appoint Ntlemeza as head of the Hawks.
Police portfolio chair Francois Beukman said Minister Nhleko will be called to explain what remedial steps will be taken to deal with this ruling, as well as plans to address deficiencies in the appointment process.
Beekman said it’s critical that this matter be dealt with as a priority because they cannot allow a vacuum in the leadership of the Hawks.
The court found Nhleko had failed in several of his duties as a minister and re-affirmed the adverse findings against Ntlemeza’s integrity.
While Nhleko’s office said the minister is studying the judgment, the ANC said it notes and respects the court’s finding.
The Helen Suzman Foundation said it’s been vindicated.