Minister failed to notify parliament
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko is under fire again for acting outside of the law – this time for not following the proper procedure in appointing Hawks head 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.
Nhleko wrote to parliament last week – a year after Ntlemeza was appointed – requesting a condonation for the late notification.
If parliament does not condone the request, Nhleko will have been in contravention of the statute.
In yesterday’s police portfolio committee, members of the opposition grilled Nhleko on the issue, which he called an oversight.
The DA’s Zak Mbhele said the party was going to seek a legal opinion.
He felt there were grounds to argue that the appointment process was procedurally flawed or irregular because not all the boxes were ticked.
Stellenbosch University constitutional law expert Professor Geo Quinot, however, said he did not believe that the notification period would be enough to challenge an appointment.
He said the oversight could have implications for the minister, who had failed to meet the timeframe, rather than the appointee in the position.
Mbhele is also of the opinion that it was a parliamentary question he submitted earlier this month that tipped the police ministry off about the oversight.
Nhleko, however, denied this yesterday, saying “it was certainly not the trigger”.
He said the issue had been an oversight by his office and that he took full responsibility for the error.
Nhleko 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.
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said the issue was a bad reflection on the minister.
He also questioned the quality of the legal advice Nhleko was receiving, saying that Nhleko and the police ministry had lost several court battles.
“And his legal advisers did not advise him that he should give notice,” Groenewald said.
He said the matter should be debated in parliament, where he would call for the matter not to be condoned.
Similar late notifications to parliament regarding the deployment of troops have, however, in the past received condonations without hassle.
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 keep him out of the post.
He was also found by Judge Elias Matojane in an earlier high court judgment to lack “integrity and honour” and to have lied under oath.