Police Minister Nathi Nhleko has apparently “contravened” his own laws again with the appointment of Hawks head, General Berning Ntlemeza.
The Police Services Act states that the police minister must determine the salary of the Hawks boss in concurrence with the finance minister, and a notice of the salary scale must be published in the Government Gazette and submitted to Parliament for approval.
Ntlemeza was appointed last year.
It has been reported that he earns a salary of about R1.6 million a year despite opposition parties questioning the procedural compliance during his appointment.
Nhleko recently also sparked controversy when it was found that he didn’t meet his legal obligations of formally notifying Parliament within 14 days of the Ntlemeza's appointment.
He only did so recently – almost a year after the appointment.
But that’s not all.
Last month, Nhleko again apparently had to rectify more compliance issues when Democratic Alliance member of Parliament Zakhele Mbhele submitted a written parliamentary question on Ntlemeza’s salary.
Within 10 days after this question was submitted, Nhleko managed to suddenly meet certain legal requirements. He only then submitted Ntlemeza's salary scale to Parliament.
According to him Parliament technically approved this salary as part of the remuneration scales as submitted by the department of public service and administration.
From Nhleko’s response this week to Mbhele’s question, it seems he has not published the salary scale in the Government Gazette.
He acknowledged that the Act requires the gazetting of the salary, but then capitalise on another technical loophole in the law.
He said: “It should be noted that the law does not prescribe the timeframes within which the notice must be published in the Gazette.”
Nhleko also believed that the government’s “approval” of a memorandum on Ntlemeza’s appointment meant that the finance minister, as part of Cabinet, had consented.
The notice was sent to all the ministers, and nobody objected to it, he said.
Nhleko added that the law did not expressly stipulate that the finance minister's concurrence should be in writing.
Mbhele said it is reasonable to expect that Parliament – as with Ntlemeza’s appointment last year – should have been informed of his salary last year already.
"Again it seems self-evident that my question checking compliancemade him realise something had not been done and triggered him yo rectify it," Mbhele said.
"The issue itself is again simply a procedural one but, from a political perspective, it speaks to the haste with which the Ntlemeza appointment was made, without due regard for crossing t's and dotting i's. This is also in contrast to the long-delayed appointment of a permanent Secretary of Police, which statutorily is meant to be done within a year of the vacancy occurring."
Mbhele also said it is about the "narrative of a Minister who has repeatedly contravened statutes and had court rulings of unlawful conduct against him because he is more focused on politicising the police rather than prioritising its professionalisation".
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald also earlier questioned the competence of the legal advisers in Nhleko’s office and asked how a minister could expect South Africans to be law-abiding citizens if he himself was falling short.
Francis Antonie, director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, said on Thursday that the foundation would "see Ntlemeza in court on December 6 and 7" to challenge his appointment and fitness for office.