Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza will remain in his position after the High Court in Pretoria dismissed an urgent application to stop him from exercising his duties pending a bid to set aside his appointment.
Judge Neil Tuchten dismissed an urgent application by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and Freedom Under Law (FUL) for an interim interdict which would effectively have suspended Ntlemeza pending their bid to set aside Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko’s decision to appoint him to the top crime-fighting position.
HSF alleged Ntlemeza was a person “of bad character” and not competent to hold office because of adverse remarks about him made by two judges who set aside his suspension of two high ranking officers of his own unit.
Provincial Hawks heads General Shadrack Sibiya and General Johan Booysen both successfully took Ntlemeza to court after he suspended them, claiming their suspensions were taken in bad faith and with ulterior motives.
Ntlemeza strenuously opposed both applications and also wrongly accused Judge Elias Matojane, who heard the Sibiya application, of privately engaging with Sibiya’s lawyers.
Judge Matojane found that Ntlemeza had acted in bad faith when he suspended Sibiya, that his conduct was “biased and dishonest” and that the Hawks boss was “dishonest and lacked integrity and honour” by making false statements under oath.
In the Booysen application, Judge Anton van Zyl found there was a “strong suggestion” of an ongoing move to unseat Booysen and that Ntlemeza had “stubbornly persisted” in a course of action which was in no way justified.
Judge Tuchten said the Minister was not entitled to ignore the court findings, it seemed likely that he had indeed brushed aside the judgments as irrelevant and the applicants had strong prospects of success to review Ntlemeza’s appointment.
However, he found that they had not made out a case for an interim interdict as they failed to establish that Ntlemeza’s decisions would all be unlawful or that it would result in irreparable harm.
There was also no suggestion that Ntlemeza was contemplating any further disciplinary proceedings against his highly placed fellow officers without justification.
The Judge said he would not be justified to conclude that the court in the Sibiya case was right when it drew the inference of Ntlemeza’s lack of integrity and that the court in Booysen’s case was wrong in declining to do so.