Press Release: Judgment Handed Down in Appointment of Head of Hawks

The full bench of the Pretoria High Court today handed down judgment in the application of the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and Freedom Under Law (FUL) to review the appointment of Major General Berning Ntlemeza as the National Head for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI – “the Hawks”).

In the application, the HSF and FUL argued that the Minister's decision to appoint Major General Ntlemeza was irrational and unlawful. Previous pronouncements, by the High Court, indicated that Major General Ntlemeza was not a fit and proper candidate for the high position of national head of the Hawks, lacking the required integrity and respect for the rule of law.

With reference to these previous pronouncements, the judges (Mabuse J, Kollapen J and Baqwa J) found that “these judgments are replete with the findings of dishonesty and mala fides against Major General Ntlemeza. These were judicial pronouncements. They therefore constitute direct evidence that Major General Ntlemeza lacks the requisite honesty, integrity and conscientiousness to occupy the position of any public office, not to mention an office as...important as that of the National Head of the DPCI, where independence, honesty and integrity are paramount to qualities.

In addition, the judgment found not only that the Minister of Police had read these judgments and was aware of the remarks on Major General Ntlemeza’s character, but had also failed to put them before the interview panel that was convened to consider the applications for the post of National Head of the DPCI.  The interview panel had therefore proceeded to take a decision without all the facts being placed before it.

For these reasons, the High Court set aside the appointment of Major General Ntlemeza as Head of the Hawks on the grounds of it being irrational and, therefore, unlawful. The HSF believes that it is crucial for the functioning of a constitutional democracy that persons of ability and integrity are appointed to lead important institutions of state.  This judgment will play an important role in reinforcing the importance of this principle.

For a copy of the judgment see here.

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