20/03/2017 11:34 GMT | Updated 20/03/2017 11:36 GMT

Police Minister To Appeal Court Order Against Head Of Hawks Police Unit

So Ntlemeza stays on in his job until another court rules against him.

Gallo Images / Sowetan / Antonio Muchave
Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza

South Africa's police minister will fight a court order to remove the head of an elite police investigation unit, popularly known as the Hawks, after the court ruled his appointment unlawful, media said on Monday.

Berning Ntlemeza was appointed in 2015 to lead the powerful Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation, but two domestic non-government bodies, Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation, applied to the Pretoria High Court to have Ntlemeza removed on the grounds that he was unfit for the office.

Sandile Ngidi, a spokesman for Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, said Nhleko was appealing against Friday's ruling, eNCA television reported. Ntlemeza will stay on while the appeal was processed, the report added.

Reuters could not immediately reach Ngidi for comment.

The integrity of the Hawks has been called into question by domestic media and NGOs, over the unit's role in a graft case against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, which critics say was part of a political agenda.

Charges in that case were withdrawn last year.