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ISS warns against rushing to appoint new Hawks head

Parliament’s Police Committee has called on the minister to make an appointment as soon as possible but the Institute for Security Studies’ Gareth Newham says the decision must not be rushed.

YouTube screengrab of Major General Berning Ntlemeza.

JOHANNESBURG – As Police Minister Fikile Mbalula prepares to give a briefing following Berning Ntlemeza’s removal as head of the Hawks, it remains to be seen whether the minister will announce a successor for the directorate.

On Wednesday, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that its earlier order saying Ntlemeza is unfit to be head of the Hawks must be implemented immediately.

This means Ntlemeza is no longer head of the Hawks, despite any more appeals he may bring.

Two years ago, a judge found he was a liar and a man without integrity.

Parliament’s Police Committee has called on the minister to make an appointment as soon as possible, but the Institute for Security Studies’ Gareth Newham says the decision must not be rushed.

“Another case they can just simply pick somebody up out of nowhere and pluck him in that job and you’ll see the damage that happens. So we need to see a new way of appointing this person.”

The Chair of Parliament’s Police Committee François Beukmann says the person to be appointed need to meet the criteria for the position.

“It’s vital that he should be a professional police person, with the necessary skills, experience and qualifications to do this job effectively and to ensure that the organisation is run professionally.”

SACP PLEASED

The South African Communist Party (SACP) says it’s pleased that Ntlemeza is no longer head of the Hawks because it was completely bizarre that he was appointed in the first place.

The SACP’s Alex Mashilo says they have been complaining about Ntlemeza for a long time.

“The manner in which he carried himself and conducted the affairs of the Hawks as the head left much to be desired. He should have been removed long time ago.”

While the Helen Suzman Foundation’s Chelsea Ramsen says they are pleased their application to have him removed immediately was successful.

“He never should have been appointed, so we’re pleased with the decision.”

Mbalula will give his first response to this ruling later on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, Beukman says Mbalula must appoint a new head of the Hawks as quickly as possible.

Beukman says the Police Ministry needs to act.

“It’s vital that the person must have the confidence of the public and also the confidence of the members of the judiciary.

“Remember, we must ensure that NDP implementation plan is executed and that means professional police.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)