Police minister responds to Dramat suspension challenge

Nkosinathi Nhleko says it the HSF has no lawful right to challenge Anwa Dramat's suspension.

FILE: Hawks boss Anwa Dramat. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko says the Helen Suzman (HSF) Foundation has no lawful right to challenge Hawks boss Anwa Dramat's suspension in court as there is no evidence that he intends to do so himself.

Nhleko today filed responding affidavits in the High Court in Pretoria after an urgent challenge was postponed until Monday by Judge Bill Prinsloo.

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

In his court papers, Nhleko says he is deeply concerned.

Nhleko says it seems the HSF has appointed itself Dramat's guardian without his approval and questioned why the Hawks boss is a respondent and not co-applicant in the suspension challenge.

The minister also lashed out at a letter written to him by the foundation's director on 30 December in which he sets a seven day deadline for the minister to provide reasons why Dramat was suspended.

The police minister said these conditions are unacceptable and suggests that they were purposefully set out to frustrate him.

But the HSF has denied that it purposefully set tight deadlines for the minister to respond to its court challenge, saying he was first informed about the move last month.

The foundation's Francis Antonie says this is merely an excuse because the state's legal team was unprepared.

"The minister had we believe ample opportunity to discuss this with his lawyers and unfortunately they are behind in terms of their preparation."

Turning to the illegal rendition case, Nhleko said witness statements place members of the Hawks at the centre of the operation.

During today's court proceedings, the foundation's lawyers argued that witnesses had been told to incriminate Dramat and their testimony is therefore unreliable.

Nhleko's response will be argued when the High Court hears the suspension challenge next week.

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 has 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.