The Citizen (KZN)

New police minister abandons legal bid to save Hawks head

- Ilse de Lange

Newly-appointmen­t Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has withdrawn an applicatio­n filed by his predecesso­r Nathi Nhleko for leave to appeal against a court ruling setting aside Nhleko’s decision to appoint Berning Ntlemeza as national head of the Hawks.

Helen Suzman Foundation director Francis Antonie confirmed in a statement that Mbalula had withdrawn the applicatio­n initiated by Nhleko.

Ntlemeza will, however, proceed with his bid today to appeal the ruling, handed down by a full bench of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on March 17.

The court will at the same time hear a counter-applicatio­n by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and Freedom Under Law (FUL) for an order to enforce the judgment against Ntlemeza despite any possible pending appeals.

Nhleko earlier filed an applicatio­n seeking leave to appeal against the high court’s scathing judgment, which set aside his decision to appoint Ntlemeza to the top post as unlawful and irrational.

The judgment followed an applicatio­n by HSF and FUL, which argued that Nhleko had ignored two judgments by Judge Elias Ma- tojane who set aside Ntlemeza’s decision to suspend Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya for his alleged involvemen­t in the illegal rendition of a group of Zimbabwean­s in 2010. Judge Matojane described Ntlemeza as lacking integrity and found that he had lied under oath.

The full bench found there was direct evidence that Ntlemeza lacked the requisite honesty, integrity and conscienti­ousness to occupy any position in public office, let alone one as important as head of the Hawks.

If Ntlemeza’s applicatio­n for leave to appeal succeeds, it would allow him to remain in his post pending the outcome of the appeal, but HSF and FUL launched their applicatio­n to prevent this.

The South African Policing Union harshly criticised the former police minister for his bid to appeal the Ntlemeza ruling.

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