The police general who has been acting head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks), Major General Berning Mthandazo Ntlemeza is the new head of the unit “with immediate effect,” Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said on Thursday.
Ntlemeza, who has been acting head since December last year following the suspension and then resignation of General Anwa Dramat, is a career policeman who joined the SA Police Service in 1981 in the then Transkei, a Police Ministry statement said.
Under his acting leadership the Hawks “have stabilised and scored major success in fighting priority crimes ranging from rhino poaching to police murders to the uncovering of drug laboratories and in fighting police corruption”.
Nhleko said: “Time and again we have been faulted for not appointing career policemen and women into strategic positions. I have no doubt Gen Ntlemeza will continue the good work the Hawks have become famous for and help government fight serious organised crime and corruption”.
One who does not share the Minister’s view of the new Hawks boss is opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party shadow police minister, Dianne Kohler-Barnard. She said it was “distressing that a man whose very appointment and conduct as acting Hawks head was severely indicted by the north Gauteng high Court as being ‘biased and dishonest'”.
“This inexplicable move by the Minister must be vociferously interrogated and his failure to provide satisfactory responses should see him made the subject of a parliamentary inquiry in addition to the appointment of Ntlemeza being set aside as irrational.
“The DA has maintained his appointment as the acting head of the Hawks was unlawful because the suspension of his predecessor was unconstitutional by its very nature. The appointment of Ntlemeza is born from fatal errors in due process.
“Both the North Gauteng High Court and the Constitutional Court declared the Police Minister’s decision to suspend Dramat ‘unlawful’, ‘invalid’ and mist be ‘set aside’. The Courts stated the same was true for the appointment of acting Hawks boss Ntlemeza.
“In January the North Gauteng High Court slated the illegitimately installed Ntlemeza citing his suspension of Gauteng Hawks boss, Shadrack Sibiya, as unlawful, invalid and unconstitutional.
“This came after North Gauteng High Court Judge Matonjane found there was indeed no legal or factual basis for the suspension of Sibiya and that Ntlemeza acted ‘acted without any single shred of prima facie evidence’. Judge Matonjane also called Ntlemeza ‘biased, dishonest and lacks integrity and honour’. ‘To further show he is dishonest he made false statements under oath’.
Ntlemeza’s 34 years in policing include 30 in detective, investigation and intelligence services. Among his successes are convictions in more than 100 cases involving vehicle theft.