Drama over Dramat set to intensify

2015-01-25 15:00

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More drama is expected to unfold tomorrow as Hawks boss Anwa Dramat returns to his job.

Sources close to acting Hawks head Major General Berning Ntlemeza say he is not budging and has teamed up with Police Minister Nathi Nhleko in a court challenge to overturn Judge Bill Prinsloo’s ruling, which overturned Dramat’s suspension.

“We are not going anywhere; we are working,” said a senior Ntlemeza confidante.

However, it remains unclear whether Dramat will be allowed to put a foot in the door at his old office. He travelled to Gauteng this week to resume his position and told City Press yesterday morning that he would abide by the court ruling and return to work.

“The context of the order is that I have to return to work, and if I am not at work I would be absent without leave. My understanding is that?...?the court order is in place. Even if you appeal, the order remains in place. But you will need to speak to the legal people and hear what they say,” Dramat said.

Dramat said the order was very clear when it came to what has to happen now.

However, police department spokesperson Musa Zondi said the appeal documents had been served and Dramat remained suspended.

“He is unfortunately suspended and the status quo remains,” Zondi said.

Criminal law expert Shahir Omar agreed: “Once a high court decision has been challenged, it remains suspended until a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal. In this matter, Dramat remained suspended the minute a notice of leave to appeal was filed.”

In a short judgement delivered on Friday morning, Prinsloo also set aside Nhleko’s appointment of Ntlemeza as the Hawks’ acting national head, and ordered Nhleko to pay the Helen Suzman Foundation’s legal costs. The foundation filed the urgent application seeking Dramat’s reinstatement and the reversal of Ntlemeza’s appointment on the grounds that Dramat’s suspension contravened new rules governing the independence of the Hawks.

Nhleko and Ntlemeza wasted no time in appealing the ruling and filed a notice of an application for leave to appeal on Friday.

In the court documents, obtained by City Press, the two argue that Prinsloo “erred in law”.

The grounds of their appeal are that the Helen Suzman Foundation had no legal right to apply for Dramat’s reinstatement on his behalf, and that Dramat did not file any affidavit to support the application.

“The court?...?erred in finding that the minister has no power to suspend the head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation [Hawks] other than as contemplated in sections?...?of the South African Police Service Act,” the document read.

The sections stipulate that a Hawks head can only be suspended after a decision by the relevant parliamentary committee.

Two recent judgements in the Constitutional Court, brought by the Helen Suzman Foundation and businessman Hugh Glenister, mean that neither the police minister nor the national police commissioner are able to suspend the head of the Hawks.

However, Nhleko disagrees and writes in the court papers that he was within his rights to suspend Dramat and appoint Ntlemeza.

Dramat was suspended on December 23 by Nhleko for his alleged role in the illegal rendition of seven Zimbabweans in 2010.

According to a letter sent to Dramat on December?9 by Nhleko, which informed Dramat of Nhleko’s intention to suspend him, two of the men were killed by Zimbabwean police.

In the letter, Nhleko also alleges Dramat played a role in the illegal extradition to South Africa of serial escapee and armed robber Bongani Moyo, a Zimbabwean national.

Francis Antonie, the head of the Helen Suzman Foundation, was quoted as saying the foundation was ready to fight the appeal brought by the police minister.

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