Supreme Court dismisses Ntlemeza’s bid to return to work

Supreme Court dismisses Ntlemeza’s bid to return to work

Axed Hawks head Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza. Picture: Gallo

Ntlemeza’s appointment was nullified by the High Court in Pretoria in March this year.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on Friday, rejected disgraced former Hawks boss Lieutenant-General Berning Ntlemeza’s appeal to be reinstated.

“It must by now be apparent that the appeal is bound to fail. The effect of the order that follows is that the high court’s execution order… remains extant with the consequence that General Ntlemeza is unable to return to his post pending the final determination of the present application for leave to appeal and/or any further appeal processes in relation to the merits of his appointment.

“The appeal is dismissed with costs including the costs of two counsel. The appellant is ordered to pay the costs personally,” the court judgment read.

The former head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) wanted to be reinstated while his application for leave to appeal was considered.

Ntlemeza had appealed against the North Gauteng High Court’s decision which found that his appointment was unlawful. He was declared unfit to hold any public office.

The Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law brought the initial case against Ntlemeza and the police minister.

“The Helen Suzman Foundation, which with Freedom Under Law had brought the initial case against Lieutenant-General Ntlemeza and the Minister of Police, welcomes this decision,” the foundation said in a statement.

On May 18, the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday dismissed an urgent application filed by Ntlemeza, who wanted to return to work pending his appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

“The applicant [Ntlemeza] is currently earning his full salary, and further he is currently not performing any functions attaching to his employment. He has failed to show that he will suffer any prejudice by not having a work phone or car provided by his employer. As already mentioned, the appeal is already scheduled for hearing by the Supreme Court of Appeal on June 2, 2017. This will afford the applicant an opportunity to obtain substantial redress – if he is entitled to any,” Judge Sheila Mphahlele said as she delivered her ruling at the time.

“Having regard to the findings I made in this judgement, I am of the view that this matter is not urgent and should be struck off the roll. I accordingly make the following order, that the matter is struck off the roll for want of urgency. The applicant [Ntlemeza] is to pay the cost of this application, including the cost of two counsel. That’s my order.”

On May 17, Advocate Nceba Dukada, for Ntlemeza, told the court that Police Minister Fikile Mbalula had illegally and prematurely elbowed Ntlemeza out of office.

At the time, Ntlemeza requested Mphahlele to bar Mbalula from blocking him from returning to work, pending the outcome of the Supreme Court of Appeal action.

Dukada argued that since Ntlemeza had filed the SCA appeal, that action automatically suspended the enforcement order of the high court which removed him from office.

Ntlemeza’s appointment was nullified by the High Court in Pretoria. The court ruled that its earlier finding that Ntlemeza was not a fit and proper person to lead the Hawks should come into immediate effect even though he had appealed the ruling.

Ntlemeza was appointed permanently to the position by former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko in September 2015, despite Judge Elias Matojane having found that the general “lacks integrity and honour” and had lied under oath.

Subsequently, Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation brought arguments before the court saying Ntlemeza was not fit and proper to hold office – the court agreed with them.

In March, the court ruled that Ntlemeza lacks the requisite honesty, integrity and conscientiousness to occupy any public office, and declared his appointment invalid and unlawful. Then police minister Nhleko appealed the ruling before Mbalula’s intervention.

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