Former provincial Hawks head major-general Johan Booysen who has since retired. Picture: Independent Media
DURBAN - The embattled former Hawks boss major-general Berning Ntlemeza is “drinking from his own poisoned chalice”, said former provincial Hawks head major-general Johan Booysen who has since retired.

Booysen was commenting on last week’s ruling by the Pretoria High Court that Ntlemeza be removed immediately as the Hawks boss. Ntlemeza has dug in his heels, saying only Parliament could fire him.

Ntlemeza has not vacated his office as he views himself still very much in charge of the elite crime-fighting unit, his lawyer Comfort Ngidi said on Tuesday.

Ngidi said Ntlemeza would report for duty on Monday next week as he was taking the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

However, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, who has already appointed Ntlemeza’s acting replacement, Lieutenant-General Yolisa Matakata, has reportedly called on Ntlemeza to respect the court’s decision, saying he must vacate in peace.

Ngidi said section 18 of the Superior Courts Act 10 of 2013 “gives us automatic right of appealing the court’s decision. We don’t have to ask for permission”.

He continued: “By operation of section 18, General Ntlemeza is still in office. That’s how we interpret it. He will be back on Monday next week.”

It was reported that a showdown would loom between Mbalula and Ntlemeza if the latter reported for duty.

Unperturbed, Ngidi said: “If we experience any challenges when General Ntlemeza returns to work, we will then consider what legal remedies we have in order to ensure that he executes his duties.”

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said: “We still maintain this is a matter between the minister and the general.” He added that there was no malice intended towards Ntlemeza.

Mbalula’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga on Monday said Matakata was busy executing her duty.

Booysen labelled Ntlemeza a tyrant who ran the Hawks like his “own business”.

“This once again demonstrates Ntlemeza’s total disregard for the rule of law. He is now drinking from his own poisoned chalice. He should respect the decisions made by our courts and stop acting like he is a law unto himself.

“The appointment of General Matakata, who I know well, can only be seen as a positive move to stabilise the Hawks.

“If you have a general in the police who disregards the courts, that sends a very bad message to the public about our law enforcement agencies,” Booysen said.

The two have crossed paths before when Ntlemeza suspended Booysen in September 2015, soon after becoming national head of the Hawks.

The suspension, which was overturned several times by the courts, was over allegations of fraud that Booysen had consistently denied.

Durban High Court Judge Anton van Zyl, in a recent judgment overturning Booysen’s suspension, said Ntlemeza had acted in bad faith and an ulterior purpose when he suspended him as KZN head of the Hawks.

The DA has since called for the newly-appointed acting head, Yolisa Matakata, to prioritise investigations that had been neglected by Ntlemeza.

Some of these cases include the Gupta family for allegedly offering ministerial positions to certain parliamentarians, including Mcebisi Jonas and Des van Rooyen.

Booysen, employed by the Fidelity Security Group since March, said it would be unfair to dictate which cases Matakata must prioritise.

“She has just been appointed and there are many other high profile cases to attend to. Let her find her feet first and assess the resources available at her disposal.

“It’s too much work and the Hawks lack resources. It’s expensive to investigate cases so people must give the acting general time to assess her new environment and decide how to approach the tasks at hand,” he said. Attempts to get comment from Ntlemeza were unsuccessful.

Daily News