Pretoria – Disgraced head of the Hawks, Major-General Berning Ntlemeza, has no choice but to now vacate his office.
The high court in Pretoria on Wednesday turned down an application by Ntlemeza to turn to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein (SCA) in a bid to cling to his position as the Priority Crimes Investigation head.
The leave to appeal application comes after the high court last month ruled Ntlemeza’s appointment as head of the elite unit was irrational and unlawful.
It was argued on his behalf that the court made a mistake in its ruling and that another court would come to a different finding.
But a full bench (three judges) only took a few minutes to conclude that Ntlemeza’s application will have no prospects of success if it was heard by the SCA. His leave to appeal application was subsequently turned down.
The controversial now former Hawks boss suffered two more blows on Wednesday. The first was when newly appointed police minister Fikile Mbalula turned his back on Ntlemeza when his advocate, at the start of the proceedings, withdrew his application for leave to appeal against the earlier judgment in which it was found Ntlemeza’s appointment was irregular and unlawful.
Former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, who appointed Ntlemeza, initially indicated that he will appeal the judgement. But Mbalula, when he was appointed as minister, refused to take the matter further.
It was argued on behalf of the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) that this is an indication that the new SAPS minister agreed that the appointment was irregular.
The final blow to Ntlemeza on Wednesday came when the court granted an order in favour of the HSF that Ntlemeza had to step down now, even if he decided to petition the SCA or the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal. Normally any appeal proceedings would put an order on hold, pending the outcome of any appeals.
But it was argued that in this case there were exceptional circumstances to warrant the order that he had to vacate his office, no matter what.. It was said that Ntlemeza occupied an extremely important office and it could not be allowed that a person who is illegally in that position, should continue to make decisions which could affect the country.
The three judges agreed and said they will give their reasons for this order at a later stage.