High Court slams police minister for requesting postponement

The court says it's inexcusable that he requested more time to challenge Anwa Dramat's response.

FILE: Suspended Hawks boss Anwa Dramat. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - An urgent application challenging the suspension of Hawks boss Anwa Dramat has been postponed to Monday by the High Court in Pretoria.

Legal representatives for the Helen Suzman Foundation and Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko have reached an agreement after a discussion in the judge's chambers.

The foundation wants Dramat's contentious suspension set aside, arguing its unlawful.

The High Court in Pretoria earlier said its inexcusable that Nhleko requested more time to respond to a challenge against Dramat's suspension as he had been requested to do so on 30 December.

The Helen Suzman Foundation is challenging Dramat's contentious suspension, arguing that it's unlawful.

Dramat was placed on suspension by Nhleko at the end of last year for allegedly taking part in the rendition of four Zimbabwean men in 2010.

In its heads of argument, the foundation questioned the timing of Dramat's suspension.

The foundation claims he was only issued with a notice to take him off the job once he started centralising high-profile investigations.

It also wants the appointment of acting Hawk's boss Mthandazo Ntlemeza to be set aside, saying Nhleko didn't have the authority to replace Dramat.

The Police Ministry's legal counsel, William Mokhari, says they only met with Nhleko on Tuesday to discuss the court challenge and says they should be allowed more time to file a response before the matter is argued.

David Unterhalter, who is representing the Helen Suzman Foundation, claimed the minister was fully aware that he did not have the lawful authority to suspend Dramat when he took the decision.

Unterhalter argued that the crimes unit has fallen into disarray since Dramat's suspension.

SIBIYA DIRECTLY IMPLICATED IN RENDITION

At the same time, the Hawks say its Gauteng unit head Shadrack Sibiya has been directly implicated in the rendition of the four men from Johannesburg to Zimbabwe and have set next Monday as a deadline for him to give reasons why he should not be removed from his job.

Sibiya was served notice of suspension for the second time yesterday, hours before a Labour Court challenge against Ntlemeza.

The unit says it withdrew the first notice to supplement it with additional information.

"Initially, he had indicated that there wasn't enough evidence so at this time we have made sure that we have included everything."

The rendition case was investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate and it's still unclear if its outcome, which reportedly clears Sibiya, formed part of his submission to the court.

On Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance in Parliament said Nhleko must reveal if he appointed the acting head of the Hawks in order to purge allies of Dramat.

The minister has been asked appear before Parliament's Police Portfolio Committee later this month to explain what's happening inside the elite unit.