The new head of the Hawks, Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza, pipped four other candidates to the post, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said on Thursday. This despite being referred to as dishonest and lacking in integrity and honour by North Gauteng High Court Judge Elias Matojane.
Matojane said Ntlemeza had withheld information and made false statements under oath while seeking leave to appeal the court’s ruling overturning Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya’s suspension in March. Ntlemeza suspended Sibiya for his alleged involvement in the illegal rendition of Zimbabweans to that country’s police in 2010.
Nhleko dismissed the judge’s comments as “an opinion”.
“It’s a view. Also, this judgment [is being] appealed.”
He said there were no political considerations in terms of the appointment.
“The General has [numerous qualifications]. His experience in heading a detective branch and his work in [the] crime intelligence environment counts.
“At the interview, he emerged as the best performing candidate,” Nhleko said.
Five applicants were interviewed by a panel of three ministers and one deputy minister. Ntlemeza’s permanent appointment was confirmed on Thursday after heading the unit since December 2014 in an acting capacity.
This followed the suspension and eventual resignation of Anwa Dramat. Ntlemeza committed himself to dealing with corruption “vigorously”, while also putting a special focus on organised and commercial crimes.
“We didn’t have any strategy when I took over the [unit], but now the strategies are there. There is direction now.”