Court dismisses urgent interdict against Hawks head

Decision does not affect the main application to establish if Berning Ntlemeza’s appointment as head of the Hawks was lawful, says organisation

Court dismisses urgent interdict against Hawks head

19 April 2016

Pretoria - An urgent application against Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza by the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law has been dismissed by the High Court in Pretoria.

Judge Neil Tuchten dismissed the urgency of the application on Tuesday.

"The application for relief pendete lite (pending litigation) is dismissed," he said in his judgment.

The two organisations approached the court seeking an urgent interdict prohibiting Ntlemeza from leading the Hawks or making any decisions.

They also wanted his appointment to be set aside. Ntlemeza and the HSF have met on numerous occasions in court following the suspension of former Hawks head Anwa Dramat for the alleged rendition of Zimbabwean nationals.

His suspension saw Ntlemeza appointed in an acting capacity, followed by the suspensions of KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Major General Johan Booysen and Gauteng head Shadrack Sibiya.

Dramat later quit.

After Ntlemeza suspended Booysen, the latter went to court to have the suspension overturned. In that case in November 2015, Judge Anton Van Zyl set aside the suspension and found that Ntlemeza had ignored key evidence in the bid to suspend Booysen. The court also found there was no indication that he had considered material details Booysen submitted to defend himself against allegations of racketeering.

In another judgment in the High Court in Pretoria in March 2015, Judge Elias Matojane had to deal with an application by Ntelemeza to overturn the lifting of the suspension of former Gauteng Hawks boss Shadrack Sibiya, also implicated in the rendition of the Zimbabweans.

In that judgment, News24 reported that Matojane found that Ntlemeza had withheld information and made false statements under oath while seeking leave to appeal the court's ruling overturning Sibiya's suspension in March.

Sibiya was eventually fired in August last year after a disciplinary inquiry relating to the renditions.

Judge Johann Kriegler, of Freedom Under Law, said they were still studying the judgment.

"The court’s decision to dismiss the interim application does not affect the main application to establish if Lieutenant General Berning Ntlemeza’s appointment as head of the Hawks was lawful, which is still proceeding. While we are disappointed, we remain hopeful that we will achieve what we set out to do, which is to ensure that a person who is unfit for office is dismissed from this position," said Kriegler.

Francis Antonie, director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, also expressed disappointment following the judgment.

"We are obviously disappointed with the ruling on the matter relating to the urgent application and are considering our options in terms of appeal.  At the same time, we will now proceed with an extensive review on the merits of the case, for which we are awaiting a date," he said.

This article first appeared on News24, see here