Riah Phiyega, Anwa Dramat face off

2013-06-23 10:00

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It’s Phiyega vs Dramat in a battle to secure the services of the best law enforcers.

The police investigator who took over the Oscar Pistorius murder case has been tasked with heading up a crack squad of handpicked detectives who will report directly to national police commissioner Riah Phiyega.

Three senior police sources this week confirmed that an elite task team of detectives will be headed by Lieutenant General Vineshkumar Moonoo, who assumed control of the Pistorius investigation from detective Hilton Botha after his controversial handling of the case and subsequent resignation.

One senior police source said the task team is being established to investigate priority crime outside of the more independent Hawks unit, which is in the process of being established under new legislation.

City Press has learnt of the new unit amid ongoing high-level talks and uncertainty within the police about the fate of the Hawks and its detectives.

According to a senior criminal justice source, Phiyega wants the Hawks to be drastically downsized to “a small national unit of between 250 and 300 detectives”.

Three independent police sources confirmed that there was disagreement between Phiyega and Hawks head Anwa Dramat over what form the unit should take, as well as on its reporting lines.

A senior police source also said there was a level of disagreement about the fact that the Hawks head reports to minister of police Nathi Mthethwa and not to the head of police.

“Dramat will report directly to Mthethwa.

“How can this be, when all his staff are still SAPS employees who report to Phiyega?” he asked.

The Hawks dilemma has given police bosses many headaches since the ANC resolved to create a single police force and disband the corruption busting Scorpions at its 2007 Polokwane Conference.

The Hawks were established to replace the Scorpions by combining the police’s commercial and organised crime units.

“The problem is that the politicians wanted to close the Scorpions, they never wanted to open the Hawks,” said a police source.

Businessman Hugh Glenister brought a case to the Constitutional Court in 2011 and it ruled that the South African Police Service Amendment Act which created the Hawks did not create a sufficiently independent corruption fighting unit.

Last year the police submitted a replacement act to the portfolio committee on justice and constitutional development.

The police maintain that their new act creates a sufficiently independent unit within the ranks of the police, but Glenister and the Helen Suzman Foundation have launched another Constitutional challenge to the act.

This case will be heard in the Western Cape High Court in August.

Dr Johan Burger, of the Institute for Security Studies, said it was understandable that Phiyega had concerns about the nature of the new Hawks unit because the new legislation created an untenable position for her.

“The national commissioner remains the accounting officer of the police, including the Hawks, but she has no command and control over (the Hawks).

She can discuss issues with the head of the Hawks but cannot give him orders.”

Police spokesperson Phuti Setati said the national commissioner did from ­“time to time hold meetings with both external and internal stakeholders including senior managers within the Department”.

“The SAPS cannot be drawn into discussing issues raised in such meetings with the media. Issues raised in your enquiry clearly shows that you are ­

ill-informed.

“Accordingly, the SAPS cannot respond to such unethical, misleading and non-factual exchange of information or conversation,” said Setati.

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