Hawks head Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza. File picture: Gcina Ndwalane
Johannesburg – The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday said it "welcomes the decision today by the North Gauteng High Court to deny Hawks Head Berning Ntlemeza leave to appeal, and to order that the judgment setting aside Ntlemeza’s appointment should have immediate effect".

"We have long called for his removal from the position of National Hawks Head on account of his unsuitability to hold office and procedurally flawed appointment," said Zakhele Mbhele DA Member of Parliament.

"Berning Ntlemeza must respect this court ruling, and vacate his office immediately."

In September 2015, the then Police Minister Nathi Nhleko – despite Judge Elias Matojane’s ruling that Ntlemeza “lacks integrity and honour” – appointed him head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks).

The Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law (FUL) brought the matter to court saying Ntlemeza's appointment to the lead the Hawks was "irrational and unlawful" because a court had previously found that he lacked integrity and lied under oath.

Last month the High Court in Pretoria reviewed and set aside Ntlemeza’s appointment as the head of the Hawks. But Ntlemeza and the then police minister, Nathi Nhleko, appealed the ruling.

On Wednesday the high court turned down Ntlemeza's application to turn to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein in a bid to cling to his position as the Priority Crimes Investigation head. The order is effective immediately.

"While we also welcome the decision by new Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to withdraw the department's appeal, the fact is that Ntlemeza has served his political purpose, which the DA believes was to target the former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan," said Mbhele.

The DA MP said the politicisation of the Hawks, which he said has been facilitated by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the previous police ministers, cannot be allowed to continue.

"The new minister must now publicly commit to ensuring that the Hawks will be an independent organised crime-fighting unit, with the new head being a person of integrity, who will always put the best interests of South Africa first," said Mbhele.

"We urge him to take speedy action to expedite Ntlemeza's removal from office and his replacement by a fit-for-purpose individual who can restore confidence in, and integrity to, the Hawks leadership."

The DA said South Africans deserve crime-fighting leadership that will not be bogged down by political games and it is now up to Mbalula to show he will take his new responsibility seriously.

"The time for Zuma lackeys being placed in positions of power must come to an end."