Former KZN Hawks boss Johan Booysen has painted a chilling picture of how former Hawks head General Berning Ntlemeza wreaked havoc when he was appointed as the head of the crime-fighting unit. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/ African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen has painted a chilling picture of how former Hawks head General Berning Ntlemeza wreaked havoc and “hijacked” processes when he was appointed as the head of the crime-fighting unit. 

Booysen told the commission on Thursday how he did not trust Ntlemeza from the moment he was appointed as the head of Hawks. He said he believed Ntlemeza lacked the skills needed to run the agency. But it was his tails about how the Hawks changed following the appointment that stood out from Booysen’s testimony. 

"For lack of a better word, when he was appointed, all hell broke loose within the [Hawks]. I cannot describe it any other way," Booysen said. 

Booysen said that he felt Ntlemeza’s use of power when he got a call from him on December 31, 2014, requesting that they meet on January 1. Booysen said when they met, Ntlemeza took particular interest in the racial composition of his employees. He also made Booysen write up a report for him which he had to put together within a few hours. 

"The very first thing he did, and that's what started to raise some red flags to me, the very first thing he did was, I received a call from him six days after his appointment, on New Year's Eve, in the afternoon... I received a call from him and he said to me that he would like to see me on the 1st of January..." 
"Normally, your operational people work on the 1st of January, it's the first time in my police career of 40 years...that I'd been summoned to a meeting in the morning of a New Year's Day,” he said. 

Booysen also told the commission how Ntlemeza sent a group of riot police carrying guns to his home to serve him with a suspension letter. 

He said these incidents were proof that Ntlemeza would make anyone who questioned him suffer. 

Booysen said Ntlemeza had also hijacked the Hawks’ promotion system and instead of provincial heads dealing with appointments, Ntlemeza dealt with them from his office and would travel around the country interviewing candidates. 

“The problem started when General Nltemeza was appointed the head of the Hawks, he hijacked the whole promotion system of the Hawks. All the posts that were advertised within the Hawks were dealt with from his office instead of provincially. He basically made some excuse that he will incorporate us with the appointments but he never did,” Booysen said.

The commission also heard how the entire SA Police Service’s promotion process was marred in corruption and patronage. 

Booysen said Saps interview processes were just a matter of formality and that often top cops in charge of recruitment already knew who they were going to appoint even before interviews had taken place. 

He said the entire Saps promotion systems needs to be overhauled. 

“If any person, no matter which levels in Saps, becomes a whistleblower you are dead in the water. You are ostracised, you are worked out and in my case, you get prosecuted and you get suspended. They will not leave you alone. The promotion system in the police should be revised because I know a number of officers who will not report something because they are scared they will not be promoted,” Booysen said. 

Booysen concluded his evidence on Friday.

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