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Berning Ntlemeza.

High Court rules Hawks boss appointment unlawful

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A full bench of judges in the North Gauteng High Court this morning (Friday) unanimously declared the appointment of Hawks boss, Berning Nthlemeza unlawful and invalid.
Yesterday (Thursday) Polokwane Observer learnt about a decision made by the Limpopo Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ivy Thenga, as well as the office of National Director of Public Prosecution to decline to prosecute Ntlemeza on an earlier complaint encapsulating charges of corruption and contravention of sections of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
A complaint was brought against him by now suspended Police officer, Boitumelo Ramahlaha, formerly attached to the Provincial Crime Prevention Unit.
According to information the matter relates to the alleged protection by Ntlemeza of an erstwhile Limpopo Flying Squad Commander Terrance Rallele who was widely reported to have had a relationship with Ntlemeza’s daughter and was dismissed from the Police in November last year after a disciplinary hearing following a sentence of four months imprisonment or a fine of R2 000 suspended for three years for theft of a cell phone. Ramahlaha accused Ntlemeza, who was still based in the province at the time, of protecting Rallele.
Spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority in Polokwane, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi yesterday (Thursday) confirmed that the docket had been read by Thenga and she had decided to ask for some outstanding information and documents.
Thenga said she personally went through the docket and found no prima facie case to open a case against Ntlemeza based on the contents of the docket.
“Most importantly the person who was the key witness, the immediate supervisor of the alleged perpetrator in the matter, could not assist. The supervisor, although she confirmed in the statement that indeed all the signatures appearing on the trip authorisation are hers and the alleged perpetrator’s, could not say the trips were not official,” Thenga said.
Ramahlaha was suspended in December last year and charged for resisting arrest and defeating the ends of justice. He appeared in court earlier this week, and the case was postponed to 14 and 15 June, as the prosecutor, Elijah Mamabolo, had to recuse himself from the case following an investigation instituted against him “relating to his integrity.”
Today’s judgment in the High Court in Pretoria where Ntlemeza’s appointment was challenged by the Helen Suzman Foundation and the rights group Freedom Under Law was made known shortly after 10:00. The complainants alleged that Ntlemeza was unfit to hold office and brought the case before court last year, but the court then ruled it was not an urgent case. The foundation’s legal representative, David Unterhalter SC, argued that the appointment of Ntlemeza was unlawful, irregular and irrational in light of findings and remarks made by two judges in previous cases.
Ntlemeza was appointed as head of the Hawks seven months after high court Judge Elias Matojane made damning remarks regarding Ntlemeza’s character. The judge, in overturning the suspension of then Gauteng head of the Hawks Shadrack Sibiya, in February last year remarked that Ntlemeza was “biased and dishonest” and that he “lacked integrity and honour.” KwaZulu-Natal Judge Anton van Zyl made similar remarks when the head of the Hawks in that province, Johan Booysen challenged his axing by Ntlemeza. The judge at the time said the decision to suspend Booysen was taken in bad faith and for ulterior purposes.
According to Unterhalter Cabinet and the Minister of Police should have considered these findings when they appointed Ntlemeza Head of the Hawks. He said these judicial pronouncements could not have been simply been ignored when Ntlemeza was appointed. Francis Antonie, Director of the Helen Suzman Foundation told Polokwane Observer at 10:00 that the judges had just entered court for the presentation of the judgement.
Judge Peter Mabuse reportedly did not read the full judgment into the record this morning but only the order.
Earlier this Antonie told Polokwane Observer that it was a madhouse at the court, with a many journalists vying to learn the outcome of the session.

Story: NELIE ERASMUS
>>nelie.observer@gmail.com