Hawks face off the Doves

2014-12-28 16:00

In 1988, Anwa Dramat was sentenced in an ­apartheid court for his role as an Umkhonto ­weSizwe operative.

Later, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard evidence from a security branch police officer, Jeffrey Benzien, about how he had tortured activists – and Dramat was among them.

This week, Hawks boss Dramat was put on precautionary suspension for two months, pending allegations that he illegally rendered suspects to the Zimbabwean police.

He has consistently denied the allegations since they emerged in 2010 – witness statements made to back up his denials were not accepted by police investigators.

Major General Benny Ntlemeza, who heads the Hawks in Limpopo, will act in Dramat’s place.

By all accounts, Ntlemeza is an officer who served apartheid and has risen in a post-apartheid police service. He is also the writer of an internal report that found that Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli (on leave) was not guilty of murdering his love rival, Oupa Ramogibe.

Mdluli, a former security branch police officer, and Ntlemeza are allies in a war to control crime-­fighting in South Africa.

Apartheid-era police officers are more politically malleable than cadres like Dramat, who were taught to stand their ground by the liberation movements.

It’s messy and it’s dirty. We have to live with the outcomes as crime grows rampant while cop fights cop.

Dramat has been iced for one of two reasons, or perhaps for both. With him out of the way, the police top brass can get rid of KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen. They have failed repeatedly because Dramat would not cooperate. Earlier this month, a Durban High Court judge ordered that Booysen could not be transferred or suspended.

Booysen headed the Cato Manor squad that is ­alleged to have conducted a reign of terror and killed innocent victims. The other view of him is that he investigated numerous instances of corruption among Durban’s political elite and is being targeted for this.

The second possible reason for Dramat’s suspension is that the Hawks are likely to be called upon to investigate fraud, corruption and criminal charges against Mdluli. The high court in Pretoria ordered the charges to be reinstated after his cronies across the criminal justice system got them shelved in one mock investigation after another. Mdluli will be back in court in the middle of next year.

In addition to murder, Mdluli faces multiple charges related to the plundering of the crime intelligence slush fund. He was head of police crime intelligence ­until he was suspended.

With his man now in charge of the Hawks, Mdluli can continue his game of chess with the legal system.

It is common cause that he seeks the job of national police commissioner and it seems he has the political support despite his very chequered past.

At some point, Mdluli wrote the Ground Coverage report alleging that President Jacob Zuma faced plots from inside the ANC. Since then, he has enjoyed significant influence – perhaps even the influence to still determine who is suspended and who is appointed.

In this atmosphere, it’s worth examining who the Hawks of corruption are and who the Doves trying to fight it are.

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