Nathi Nhleko. Picture: Ntswe Mokoena
Nathi Nhleko. Picture: Ntswe Mokoena

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko will appeal against the judgment by the High Court in Pretoria that invalidated and set aside Berning Ntlemeza’s appointment as head of the Hawks.

Nhleko’s spokesman, Sandile Ngidi, confirmed to Business Day on Sunday that the minister had taken legal advice on how to proceed in the matter and that Nhleko would file papers to the court on Monday, petitioning it for an appeal application.

Ngidi said Nhleko felt that Ntlemeza’s rights should be respected and that the Hawks boss had not been given a chance to defend himself against some of the claims made against him.

Nhleko had decided to appeal against the damning high court judgment against Ntlemeza’s appointment "based on the legal counsel and the requisite strategic considerations of his office", said Ngidi.

A full bench of the High Court in Pretoria was highly critical of Nhleko for "completely ignoring and brushing aside remarks made by a court" with regard to Ntlemeza’s character.

Lobby groups the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law brought the case to the court for it to review whether or not Ntlemeza’s appointment in September 2015 was lawful.

Ntlemeza, a former deputy provincial police commissioner in Limpopo who was relatively unknown when he was appointed, was initially acting Hawks head after Anwa Dramat’s suspension.

A full bench of the High Court in Pretoria was highly critical of Nhleko for 'completely ignoring and brushing aside remarks made by a court' with regard to Ntlemeza’s character

The High Court in Pretoria found on Friday that Nhleko was aware of other courts’ critical comments about Ntlemeza’s character, made in two previous judgments, which charged that the top policeman lacked integrity and was dishonest.

"The minister simply brushed aside a considered opinion of a superior court. The question here is not one of discretion, but whether the person who has been described by such judicial pronouncement can be appointed," read parts of Friday’s high court judgment.

In March 2015, when the top policeman was acting Hawks head, high court Judge Elias Matojane wrote in a judgment that Ntlemeza "lacks integrity and honour" and had made false statements under oath.

Helen Suzman Foundation director Francis Antonie said there was an emerging pattern of the government ignoring the courts. He said the recent South African Social Security Agency case in the Constitutional Court and the Omar al-Bashir incident were part of that pattern.

However, Antonie warned that it was not good that the country’s politics were being resolved in the courts.

"All this begins to point to a curious constitutional crisis emerging where the state is becoming somewhat dysfunctional in so far as the different branches are not adhering to the rules of the game," said Antonie.

The foundation would oppose appeals by the minister and Ntlemeza and would ensure the Hawks boss did not continue his duties while an appeal process was ongoing.

Ntlemeza made his first public appearance since the court ruling at the Incredible Happenings Ministry on Sunday in Katlehong, where Pastor Mboro prayed over him.

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