Ntlemeza vows to uphold the law, protect South Africans

Newly appointed head of the Hawks Berning Ntlemeza says he has a duty towards South Africans.

YouTube screengrab of the newly appointed head of the Hawks Major General Berning Ntlemeza.

JOHANNESBURG - The Newly appointed Hawks head, Berning Ntlemeza, has dismissed critics who believe he's not suited for the job, saying he's committed to upholding the law and protecting South Africans.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko yesterday announced the career policeman, with 34 years of experience, was chosen above five other candidates to take the reins.

Questions have however emerged over his fitness to hold office, after a High Court judge found in March that he lacked integrity and lied under oath.

Ntlemeza says he has a duty towards South Africans.

"I promise I'll serve them fully and I'm ready for them. I'll never disappoint them when it comes to service delivery so I need their support."

He seems unfazed with the prospect of a court challenge to his promotion

"I'm appointed by this government so I'm going to make sure I deliver my services and I serve the people of this country. Those going to court must go to court, they've got money, there's no problem."

Ntlemeza appears unperturbed by a judge's scathing criticism of his integrity, saying the judge failed to apply his mind and didn't rely on the facts before making what he's termed "comments".

The newly appointed head of the Hawks doesn't believe Judge Elias Matojane's findings carry 'much weight'.

"The judge was just doing that in passing. He never put his mind to what he was saying; that was just a comment, which was not even based on facts."

Ntlemeza says if the findings were of significance, he should have been called to testify.

"I was never called to give a side of my story."

The Helen Suzman Foundation says it's considering challenging the appointment in court.

Ntlemeza says he won't use his position to protect anyone from prosecution, politicians or otherwise.

Undeterred by his critics, Ntlemeza says he's committed to uplifting the unit he now leads.

"The first priority is to unite the members of the Hawks and to take them to a certain level of standard of performance."

He has vowed not to abuse his authority.

"In this position I'm not going to protect anyone, I'll be treating the people of this country equally."

He has also asked South Africans to support him in the fight against crime.

Earlier today, Nhleko said Ntlemeza was the best candidate for the job.

"He's also in possession of relevant skills and qualifications for a job such as this."

Ntlemeza has been acting head of the unit since December 2014 following Anwa Dramat's suspension for his alleged involvement in the rendition of Zimbabwean nationals in 2010.

Dramat resigned earlier this year after a settlement agreement was reached.

Politics, he said, had nothing to do with the decision.