Police Minister Fikile Mbalula on Thursday announced the appointment of Lieutenant-General Yolisa Matakata as the new acting national head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), popularly known as the Hawks.
“On April 12, I the minister of police took a decision to withdraw the appeal lodged at the Supreme Court of Appeal, on the case brought by Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law (FUL). This means I must give effect to the [High Court]order of March 17 and set aside General [Berning] Ntlemeza’s appointment,” Mbalula told a press briefing in Pretoria.
“My responsibility is to work in the interest of South Africans, to guard against wasteful and irregular expenditure. I believe this case lacked [any] prospect of success on appeal. This case had the mission of the DPCI, and created a bad impression to the public.”
Mbalula said in an effort to bring stability to the elite crime fighting police unit, a permanent head will be appointed over the Hawks.
“Drawing from the said provision [Section 17CA of the South African Police Service Act, 1995]and in light of of the vacancy created as a result of yesterday’s ruling, it is my honour and privilege to introduce to you the acting national head of the DPCI, Lieutenant-General Matakata,” said Mbalula.
“However, within the short space of time, I will be appointing a permanent head of DPCI.”
Ntlemeza’s appointment was nullified by the High Court in Pretoria.
On Wednesday the court ruled that its earlier finding that Ntlemeza was not a fit and proper person to lead the Hawks should come into immediate effect even though he has appealed the ruling.
Mbalula, who was recently appointed police minister, on Wednesday also withdraw the appeal lodged at the Supreme Court of Appeal against the finding that Ntlemeza’s appointment was “irrational and unlawful”.
Ntlemeza was appointed permanently to the position by former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko in September 2015, despite Judge Elias Matojane having found that the General “lacks integrity and honour” and had lied under oath.
Subsequently, the FUL and Helen Suzman Foundation brought arguments before the court saying Ntlemeza was not fit and proper to hold office – the court agreed with them.
Last month the court ruled that Ntlemeza lacks the requisite honesty, integrity and conscientiousness to occupy any public office, and declared his appointment invalid and unlawful. The then police minister appealed the ruling.
On Wednesday the court said its findings must be acted on immediately — meaning Ntlemeza ceased to be head of the Hawks.
Mbalula has already informed Ntlemeza of this decision and asked for his observance
In a related development the Portfolio Committee on Police said it was of vital importance that the appointment of the head of DPCI/Hawks is processed in line with the Constitutional requirements.
The Committee further called on ordinary members of the Hawks not to be demotivated by these developments, but to continue with their important task of fighting organised crime, and leave the appointment processes of the new head to those who are tasked with that responsibility.