South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande has urged Police Minister Nathi Nhleko not to appeal a high court ruling that overturned the appointment of Hawks boss Major-General Mthandazo ‘Berning’ Ntlemeza.
Addressing SACP members at the OR Tambo memorial lecture in Umlazi‚ Durban‚ on Sunday, Nzimande said his party had always been “suspicious” of him and wanted a new competent head to be appointed to lead the police priority crime unit.
“This past week has not been nice to us as a party. We learned that Ntlemeza should vacate his position. We agree. Even us have long been suspicious of him, and we plead with our government to respect and honour the court’s decision and not appeal when there’s no need to do so,” Nzimande said.
“We wish there could be no appeal on this matter and that we simply appoint a new head of the Hawks.”
Last Friday, the Pretoria High Court reversed Ntlemeza’s appointment by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko in September 2015 following a legal challenge by lobby groups, The Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law, which argued that the minister ignored two previous judgments that had found Ntlemeza lacked integrity and was dishonest.
The court declared his appointment irrational and unlawful and referred the appointment back to a selection panel for a new candidate to be chosen.
On Sunday, Nhleko’s spokesperson Sandile Ngidi told The Citizen the minister would file court papers appealing the court’s ruling on Monday.
“Minister Nhleko will be filing court papers on Monday. The appeal process will effectively suspend the current court order and allow General Ntlemeza to stay in his job until the matter is heard and adjudicated as per the appeal,” Ngidi said.
On Friday, the SACP issued a statement calling for the removal of Ntlemeza to be accompanied “by a radical change of culture in the [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks], which has embroiled itself irregularly in ANC factional work”.