Berning Ntlemeza’s has been advised by his lawyer to comply with Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s instruction to return any state property he has in his possession.
“I’ve called my client, I’ve instructed him to co-operate. If the minister feels he has to return some properties, he must do so,” Comfort Ngidi told News24 on Monday.
Ntlemeza reported for work on Monday, in defiance of a court order that set aside his appointment, and then signed out a car which he was “roaming around Pretoria” in, Mbalula told reporters in Pretoria.
He said he would ask acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane to issue a warrant of arrest for Ntlemeza if he failed to return the work cellphone and car to Hawks headquarters.
“The law is being disregarded. Ntlemeza is not entitled to report for duty or exercise any powers or duties until the SCA (Supreme Court of Appeal) reverses the full court order.
“By law I have to regard Ntlemeza’s appointment as invalid. He is not entitled to report for duty,” Mbalula said.
Ngidi said he spoke to Ntlemeza shortly after Mbalula made his statement.
Ngidi said due to the sensitivity of the information on the cellphone, handing it back would not be as simple.
“The cellphone of a top cop has details of what investigations need to be done. He must clear that.”
When asked whether he knew where his client was, Ngidi said: “He’s in Pretoria. He is continuing with his work.”
Ngidi said Ntlemeza was calm when he heard about Mbalula’s demands.
“He’s not angry. He’s calm and he is understanding that the law take its course.”
Ngidi said he and Mbalula’s lawyers interpreted the law differently. He would apply for a court interdict that would allow Ntlemeza to continue going to work, pending the outcome of his Supreme Court of Appeal application.
“I am satisfied that our interpretation is correct, that if you appeal on any matter, the appeal automatically suspends the previous court order.”
SCA registrar Paul Myburgh said Ntlemeza filed an application with the SCA on Friday afternoon asking for leave to appeal against the judgment that found his appointment invalid.
On April 12, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed Ntlemeza’s application for leave to appeal against a previous order of the court that set aside his appointment.
On March 17, the same court found that then police minister Nathi Nhleko had ignored two court judgments, which found that Ntlemeza lacked “integrity and honour”, when he appointed him head of the elite police unit.
The court found that both judgments constituted “direct evidence” that Ntlemeza lacked the requisite honesty, integrity, and conscientiousness to hold public office.
His appointment has been declared invalid and unlawful and set it aside.