Berning Ntlemeza's wings have been clipped. File picture: Ian Landsberg
Johannesburg - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and former head of the Hawks Major-General Berning Ntlemeza could be headed for a showdown if the latter shows up at work on Tuesday.

Ntlemeza threatened to report for duty in the Pretoria offices of the unit he headed until last week, when Mbalula and the high court in Pretoria showed him the door.

Spokesperson for the Hawks Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi yesterday refused to comment and referred inquiries to the ministry.

Mbalula’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga said they did not want to speculate on what Ntlemeza will do today.

This followed the decision of the full bench of the high court on Thursday effectively shutting the door on Ntlemeza after rejecting his appeal.

Ntlemeza has indicated that he will approach the Supreme Court of Appeal. But Mbalula made it clear there was no room to defy court decisions and that Ntlemeza must comply.

The minister has since appointed Ntlemeza’s former deputy, Lieutenant-General Yolisa Matakata, as the acting head of the Hawks.

He said he hoped to have a permanent head before the end of the year. Mhaga said they would not entertain what Ntlemeza will do or not do today.

“What we know is that there is a new head of the Hawks (Matakata) and she is busy executing her duty,” said Mhaga.

He added that they would see what happens, but would not spend their time and energy on Ntlemeza.

The portfolio committee on police earlier warned that there must be a smooth transition for the Hawks now and for Mbalula to appoint a permanent head urgently.

It welcomed the appointment of Matakata and called for stability in the Hawks.

Chairperson of the committee François Beukman said the focus of the Hawks must be to fight organised crime and corruption in the country. This was a clear warning from the committee that it would no longer tolerate any shenanigans in the unit.

Ntlemeza has been embroiled in court battles with NGOs after the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law challenged his appointment in the high court.

This followed the judgment in March last year that Ntlemeza was not fit to head the unit. The judgment questioned his abilities and integrity, which led to the NGOs approaching the court to axe him.

Mbalula said after he was appointed minister of police at the end of last month, he would not be running to the courts.

He wanted the Hawks to focus on the fight against organised crime and corruption, he said.

Political Bureau