Dramat drama: Why our top cop’s job is on the line

2015-01-15 14:51
(File: Beeld)

(File: Beeld)

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Cape Town - The future of one of SA’s top cops, Hawks boss Anwa Dramat, hangs in the balance as lawyers prepare to fight the police ministry’s move to suspend him.

But did Dramat fall from grace or is politics at play? As the legal battle over his suspension from the Hawks is delayed until Monday, News24 looks back at the events leading to his removal from the elite crime-fighting unit.

Zimbabwe’s most wanted

October 2013 - Damning reports emerge that in 2010, Dramat had been directly involved in the illegal apprehension and deportation of Zimbabwe’s most wanted criminals.

According to a Sunday Times report, some of the men deported were tortured and killed in Zimbabwe.

As Dramat put himself forward to be interrogated by the Independent Police Investigative

Directorate (IPID), investigators looked into the criminal charges laid against him by numerous rendition survivors.

‘Curious and troubling’ suspension

Following its investigations, IPID handed over its report on Dramat to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) earlier this year.

23 December 2014 - No further action is taken until just before Christmas, when Dramat is placed on precautionary suspension for 60 days - apparently pending further investigations into the rendition allegations.

At the end of the 60 day period, the police ministry is to decide whether he will be charged.

24 December - Major General Berning Ntlemeza is made acting head of the Hawks.

The Helen Suzman Foundation’s director Francis Antonie says the move to suspend Dramat, just before Christmas, “relating to events in the distant past are curious and troubling".

Antonie added that the suspension of Dramat, alongside his KwaZulu-Natal counterpart was troubling in so far as they “destabilise the administration of justice, more particularly, the fight against corruption”.

Powerful enemies

28 December - A letter is leaked to the Sunday Times from Dramat to police minister Nathi Nhleko. In the letter, Dramat offers to take early retirement on the condition that his suspension is reversed.

Dramat claims in his letter that during the 60-day investigation period, there will be a “drive to remove certain investigations that fell under my watch”.

Some cases would be relocated, he claims, while others could be closed down.

The reason being, he explains, that he had made powerful enemies by investigating influential people.

An unnamed source tells the Sunday Times that Dramat had refused to hand over Hawks files on matters such as Nkandla, a R60m fraud case in KwaZulu-Natal and an investigation which involved Northern Cape ANC chairperson John Block to National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega.

Phiyega had asked Dramat for the files earlier in December, the paper reported.

Ministry faces backlash

30 December - Dramat’s advocate Johan Nortje claims that the suspension of the Hawks boss is unconstitutional, according to a recent court ruling.

Giving Nhleko until 5 January to lift Dramat’s suspension, Nortje says: “It’s quite clear that there are politics that are involved here”.

DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard also claims that politics are at play, telling reporters that Dramat’s suspension of General Dramat came the day after he focused on the

Nkandla files. “She [Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega] has demanded that General Dramat hand over the files on Nkandla," she says in a statement.

In response, the police say that Dramat was never asked to provide information about the Nkandla investigation.

"Phiyega and... Dramat never discussed the Hawks' investigations into Nkandla," says the elite police unit's spokesperson Paul Ramaloko in a statement.

"The Hawks is not investigating the Nkandla matter."

Ramaloko says the National Investigation Unit, under Lieutenant General Vinesh Moonoo, was looking into the R246m spent on upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

Deadline passes

5 January - In the meantime, Nortje’s 5 January deadline passes, with the police refusing to comment on Dramat’s status - calling it an “employer-employee issue”.

Musa Zondi, spokesperson for the police ministry, says: “Dramat and his lawyer decided to make it a media issue. It is really not what we are going to do. The correspondence will remain privileged.”

Though the police remain tight lipped, a flurry of activity follows - with spokesperson Ramaloko transferring to the police’s national media centre and suspension notices served to both

Gauteng Hawks head Major General Shadrack and Senior Hawks official Colonel Leslie Maluleke.

‘Unlawful’ suspension

9 January - The week ends with the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) approaching the North Gauteng High Court seeking an order for the suspension of Dramat to be declared invalid.

The HSF claims in a statement that the suspension is “plainly unlawful” based on previous case law.

The HSF adds: “The independence of the Hawks is crucial for the fight against corruption”, revealing that it has requested information regarding Dramat’s suspension from the ministry.

After the minister fails to reply to the HSF’s letter, the organisation files an application to the high court asking it to review the “unlawful” actions of the ministry.

The move is followed by a call from DA leader Helen Zille asking Parliament to review Nhleko’s decision to suspend Dramat.

13 January - Within days, Parliament’s portfolio committee on police says it wants to to be “fully briefed” on Dramat’s case.

Inviting Nhleko to the briefing, committee chairman Francois Beukman says: “The committee expects the minister to be the one briefing them on this critical issue”.

15 January
- Despite the HSF’s strenuous opposition to Nhleko’s bid to postpone its legal challenge, the urgent court application is postponed until 19 January to allow the police minister to file an opposing affidavit and heads of argument.

Nhleko’s lawyer, William Mokhari SC, argues that the HSF did not follow court rules in filing the application, leaving the minister no time to file opposing papers.

He says there would be “no blood on the wall” if the application was delayed.

Musa Zondi, spokesperson for the police ministry, tells News24 that the 60-day probe into Dramat’s conduct will continue in the meantime.

Read more on:    npa  |  ipid  |  hawks  |  anwa dramat  |  johannesburg

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