Hawks boss Lieutenant-General Berning Ntlemeza has defended his permanent appointment to head the priority crime-fighting unit on Thursday, saying he knows nothing about politics, and all he wants to do is serve and protect South Africans.
In a recent interview with ANN7, Ntlemeza – whose name has become synonymous with the unit’s investigation against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan over a covert surveillance division Gordhan allegedly established during his tenure as commissioner of Sars – appeared infuriated by suggestions made in the media by his critics that he is President Jacob Zuma’s lackey in what has been seen as a proxy war to control the National Treasury.
“I’m a pure police officer, a career police officer who even went to the university to study the policing. If you don’t know I’m having a BA in police science. I’m not just taking chances; I’m a proper police officer,” Ntlemeza charged, saying his detractors weren’t being truthful about his credentials and experience as a detective since 1981.
On Wednesday, it emerged in a letter to parliament written by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko that he neglected to formally inform the national legislature of Ntlemeza appointment as per the requirements of the South African Police Service Act.
Nhleko apparently wants parliament to overlook his error when he appointed the former apartheid-era cop permanently on September 10‚ 2015.
Ntlemeza has refused to comment on the controversy, with opposition parties saying his employment was procedurally flawed and Nhleko needed to get his “act together”.
“The issue of political connection or whatever – I want to tell the people of this country I know nothing about politics, myself. What I know is the elements of crime. When a case is reported, I will tell you the elements of crime are as follows. And I will be investigating and taking a person to court.
“So the issue of politics, I think it’s another game by other people, and I don’t want to associate myself with politics … politics are politics. Myself, I’m a proper policeman,” Ntlemeza said.
He contended he was a “pure detective”, and when faced by criticism and opposition, all he could do was just “laugh and smile” because he was doing his job earnestly.
“We’re living in a democratic country, everyone has a right to say what he or she wants to say. All those statements, insults, calling me by name, and other people, they don’t even know who’s Berning Mthandazo Ntlemeza – where is this man coming from, what are his credentials?
“I know those who are talking too much is just a minority. A lot of people in this country, they want to be served, they don’t want talking. They want action, of which I think is what the Hawks is doing under my leadership,” he said.