Police Minister Nathi Nhleko is under fire again for acting outside the law – this time for not following proper procedure in appointing the head of the Hawks, Berning Ntlemeza.
The SA Police Service Act requires that parliament be notified in writing of the appointment of the head of the Hawks within 14 days.
But Nhleko wrote to parliament only last week – a full year after Ntlemeza was appointed, requesting a condonation for the late notification.
During a meeting of parliament’s police portfolio committee yesterday, opposition MPs grilled Nhleko about the issue, which he claimed was a mere “oversight”.
The DA’s Zak Mbhele said his party would seek legal opinion on the matter, arguing that “the appointment process was procedurally flawed or irregular because not all the boxes were ticked”.
Stellenbosch University constitutional law expert Geo Quinot said, however, that he did not believe that the notification period would be enough to successfully challenge Ntlemeza’s appointment in court.
However, the bungle could have implications for the police minister, who had failed to meet the legal time frames.
Mbhele also said he suspected that it was a parliamentary question he submitted earlier this month that had alerted Nhleko to his fumble.
But the police minister has denied this, saying “it was certainly not the trigger”.
Nhleko said the issue had been an “oversight” by his office, which had at the time been dealing with capacity issues.
He said he took full responsibility for the error but said Ntlemeza’s appointment remained valid because the law only required that the SAPS notify parliament of the appointment, not seek its approval.
He said all the other elements of the appointment had been above board.
Similar late notifications to parliament regarding deployments have in the past been approved without any controversy.
Ntlemeza’s appointment last year was controversial, with lobby groups, the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law, approaching the courts in a bid to prevent him from getting the post.