Police Minister Fikile Mbalula says a court ruling against disgraced Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza shows that he was right to bar him from returning to work.
Judge Sheila Mphahlele ruled yesterday that Ntlemeza’s application to get his job, cellphone and official vehicle back was not urgent and she struck it off the urgent roll in the High Court in Pretoria.
Ntlemeza also failed in his bid for an interdict to stop Mbalula from “intimidating” him and making public statements which embarrassed, humiliated and subjected him to ridicule.
Mbalula said that even if Ntlemeza decided to appeal further, his suspension would remain in force and he would not be allowed to return to work. The judge said the interest of justice far outweighed any possible harm Ntlemeza could incur.
She said he was still earning his full salary, was not performing any duties and failed to show that he would suffer any serious prejudice if he could not return to his job immediately.
Ntlemeza would be afforded an opportunity to obtain substantial redress – if he was entitled to it – when his case was heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal on June 2, she added.
On March 17, a full bench of the high court set aside former police minister Nathi Nhleko’s decision to appoint Ntlemeza as head of the Hawks and found that he lacked the honesty, integrity and conscientiousness for the top post.
The full bench ruled that Nhleko had ignored remarks made by Judge Elias Matojane in two judgments, in which he severely criticised Ntlemeza. The Supreme Court of Appeal turned down Ntlemeza’s bid to appeal against Matojane’s judgment.
The full bench last month refused Ntlemeza leave to appeal against their March 17 ruling and granted an order to two constitutional rights bodies enforcing their March 17 ruling, despite any possible petition or appeal.
Ntlemeza maintained that his appeal against the enforcement automatically suspended that order and that Mbalula was acting unlawfully – but Mphahlele agreed with the minister that the enforcement order remained in place despite any appeals.
She said the bench had noted Ntlemeza lacked fitness and propriety and could not be allowed to remain in public office for a day longer.