'Political meddling claims a blow to SA's young democracy'

Nkosinathi Nhleko is concerned the allegations against Dramat & other Hawks officials is not the main focus.

FILE: Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG -Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko says claims of political meddling overshadowing the alleged illegal rendition of four Zimbabweans by senior Hawks officials are a blow to South Africa's young democracy.

Lawyers for Nhleko today defended his decision to place Hawks boss Anwa Dramat on suspension which is being challenged by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) in the High Court in Pretoria.

Dramat was suspended at the end of last year and claims the action was taken over his decision to investigate high-profile politicians.

Police Ministry spokesperson Musa Zondi says the minister is determined to get to the bottom of the illegal rendition case to ensure his office retains its credibility.

"If a law has been broken and you don't act then it defeats your purpose as the minister."

Zondi says the minister is concerned that the allegations against Dramat and other Hawks officials is not the main focus.

"No one is talking about the illegal rendition and we think it's an important issue and if we allow that, then it's a sad day for democracy."

Nhleko was due to meet with the suspended Hawks boss today in a private meeting but this has now been postponed.

The HSF is also questioning the appointment of Hawks acting head Mthandazo Ntlemeza which it says is not supported by the Constitution.

NHLEKO KEEN ON DRAMAT MEETING

The police ministry says a planned meeting between Nhleko and suspended Dramat will not interfere with current legal proceedings.

While Nhleko's scheduled meeting with the Hawks boss has been postponed officials say he is still open to having a discussion with Dramat.

Meanwhile, the minister has reiterated that he was correct in suspending Dramat.

The police ministry says Nhelko is not opposed to hearing what the suspended Hawks boss who has requested the meeting has to say.

Zondi said, "He's keen on the meeting because he doesn't know what Dramat wants to talk about."