There was direct evidence that Major General Berning Ntlemeza lacked the requisite honesty, integrity and conscientiousness to occupy the position as national head of the Hawks, a full bench of the High Court in Pretoria has ruled.
Judges Peter Mabuse, Jody Kollapen and Selby Baqwa on Friday set aside Police Minister’s Nathi Nhleko’s decision to appoint Ntlemeza as head of the Hawks.
The appointment had been done despite two judgments finding that Ntlemeza was dishonest, had lied under oath and lacked integrity.
The High Court ruling followed an application by rights groups the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law, which argued that Nhleko’s decision was unlawful and irrational.
Judge Elias Matojane had made scathing remarks about Ntlemeza’s conduct when he had set aside the then acting Hawks head’s decision to suspend Gauteng Hawks head Anwa Dramat for his alleged involvement in the illegal repatriation of a group of Zimbabwean nationals in 2010 and refused Ntlemeza leave to appeal.
The court found the police minister’s failure to take Judge Matojane’s remarks into account was “a quintessential example of the minister completely ignoring and brushing aside remarks by a court”.
“The judgments are replete with the findings of dishonesty and mala fides against Major General Ntlemeza.
“These were judicial pronouncements. They therefore constitute direct evidence that (he) lacks the requisite honesty, integrity and conscientiousness to occupy the position of any public office, not to mention an office as important as that of the national head of the DPCI, where independence, honesty and integrity are paramount,” Judge Mabuse said.
Judge Matojane’s findings against Ntlemeza were definitive and remained intact until the findings had been appealed against successfully.
The minister had clearly been aware of the judicial remarks but took the view that he could ignore it and simply brushed aside a considered opinion of a superior court, Judge Mabuse said.
The DA welcomed the ruling, saying they have long held that Ntlemeza was unfit and that his appointment was unlawful.
“We believe he should be removed on grounds of incompetence due to his role in the Hawks witch-hunt investigation against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan,” the DA said.