Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba on Monday requested the head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) to investigate Hawks head Lieutenant-General Berning Ntlemeza for allegations of abuse of power and defeating the ends of justice.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Mashaba said he met with the police watchdog organisation’s head Robert McBride after allegations that Ntlemeza had been obstructing several corruption cases the city has been pursuing.
“This follows serious allegations being brought forward of Major-General Ntlemeza interfering in criminal investigations reported by the City. This includes an instruction made to all members involved in such investigations to no longer pursue such cases, nor arrest suspects. Further, threats of surveillance and monitoring were made against members who investigate our matters.
“Given the gravity of these allegations, I was left with no choice but to request Ipid to intervene and investigate this matter. We cannot allow political interests to interfere in our fight against corruption in the City of Joburg,” he said.
The criminal cases pursued by Mashaba’s DA-led administration involving massive corruption were investigated by the newly established City of Joburg anti-grant unit headed by Major-General Shadrack Sibiya. Sibiya is a former Gauteng Hawks boss, and was appointed to his new position in November 2016.
It is understood Mashaba emphasised to McBride that the City cannot allow political interests to interfere in his administration’s fight against corruption and maladministration.
An Ipid spokesperson confirmed via Twitter that the meeting indeed took place on Monday.
A copy of the complaint was also forwarded to Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula and Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane. The complaint details a litany of transgressions, including but not limited to, a number of cases wherein investigations were completed but no further action had been taken. In other cases warrants of arrests had been obtained but not executed.
Mashaba’s mayoral spokesperson, Tony Taverna-Turisa, singled out two specific cases in which clear interference from the Hawks stymied progress. The first case involved 105 city employees implicated in the licensing scandal which cost the city estimated revenue of about R14 million. So far, only about two-dozen employees were prosecuted.
The second case relates to corruption in the city’s property valuation department.
Sibiya was illegally suspended from his job as Gauteng Hawks boss by Ntlemeza in 2015, who at the time was acting as Haws head, for his alleged involvement in 2010’s “illegal Zimbabwe rendition case”. This suspension was later overturned by the high court.
It was during Sibiya’s Pretoria High Court application challenging the suspension that Judge Elias Matojane labelled Ntlemeza “dishonest” and “lacking integrity”. This was the same basis used by the DA when it challenged the legality of then police minister Nathi Nhleko’s appointment of Ntlemeza to the acting position on a permanent basis.
The Zimbabwe rendition scandal was used by McBride and two other Ipid investigators, Innocent Kuba and Matthews Sesoka, when petitioning the Constitutional Court in 2016 to reinstall them following their suspensions by Nhleko.
Mashaba’s anti-grant initiatives were previously branded by both the ANC and SA Municipal Workers’ Union as a witch-hunt and a ploy to win political points.
Although aware of the complaint, Mbalula’s spokesperson told The Citizen that acting police commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane’s office has to confirm the complaint lodged with Ipid.
SAPS spokesperson Major-General Sally de Beer told The Citizen the minister’s office was the competent authority to confirm receipt of such a complaint from Mashaba.