Report: Official ‘cleared’ Dramat of any wrongdoing

2015-02-22 14:11
Anwa Dramat. (File, News24)

Anwa Dramat. (File, News24)

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Johannesburg - The Independent Police Investigative Directorate reportedly made a U-turn on findings in the case against Hawks boss Anwa Dramat and cleared him of any wrongdoing after initially recommending criminal charges be brought against him.

According to the Sunday Times, the about-turn was made by police watchdog official Innocent Khuba, who led the investigations into Dramat, Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya and Hawks cross-border desk head Leslie Maluleke over allegations of their involvement into an operation that led to five Zimbabwean criminals being abducted and deported illegally.

The newspaper reports that after initially implicating the three Hawks officials in the matter in January last year, Khuba cleared Dramat in his final report in March last year, after reportedly receiving new evidence. The report however stated that there was evidence to charge Maluleke.

The newspaper reports that in a comparison of the two reports, there was little “additional evidence” in the final version but that incriminating evidence against Dramat was mysteriously deleted from the final report.

The final version did however refer to a letter retrieved from Maluleke’s laptop that the operation had not carried Dramat’s approval.

Renditions were kept secret

Late last month, News24 reported that Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko stated in a letter to police portfolio committee chairperson Francois Beukman that the deportation of a number of Zimbabwean citizens in 2010 had been the reason for suspending Dramat.

Nhleko appeared before the committee to explain Dramat's suspension on 23 December last year, which was successfully challenged in court a week earlier by the Helen Suzman Foundation.

The North Gauteng High Court then ruled that Nhleko's decision to suspend Dramat was unlawful and invalid and should be set aside. Following the ruling, lawyers for the minister immediately filed an application to appeal against the judgment.

Nhleko said in his letter that it was not in the interests of the DPCI, its head, the SA Police Service and the country, for the serious allegations "to linger too long" against Dramat.

"To this end, I request you as chairperson of the portfolio committee to take steps [in terms of legislation] to initiate a parliamentary process for the removal of the head of the DPCI on the grounds of misconduct and that he is not fit and proper to hold office."

The allegations made against Dramat "relate to the illegal rendition of Zimbabwean nationals who were unlawfully arrested by members of the DPCI, in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, and under falsified home affairs deportation documents were extradited to Zimbabwe through Beit Bridge border gate".

According to Nhleko, they were handed over to the Zimbabwean police, who tortured them.

Two of these Zimbabwean nationals were ultimately killed by the Zimbabwean police. Witness statements place Dramat and Sibiya at the centre of these unlawful renditions and that they occurred with Dramat's knowledge and approval.

After the completion of the handover of the Zimbabwean nationals to the Zimbabwe police, "the allegation is that Dramat addressed the DPCI officers and thanked them for the job well done, and informed them that they should keep it secret".

‘Dramat should be held responsible’

In the letter to Beukman, Nhleko said there could be no doubt that if the renditions occurred in the manner described, and in contravention of South Africa's laws and its international obligations, "Dramat as the head should be held responsible and, therefore, liable for these atrocious acts".

Earlier, Nhleko told MPs he had acted within the law when he suspended Dramat.

"Upon assuming duty, I was inundated with files of alleged misconduct, corruption and atrocities within the SA Police Service. And as the minister of police... I felt duty-bound that I could not ignore such allegations."

He said a confidential report by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) put the Hawks at the centre of this matter.

"The allegations made in witness statements in the IPID report and other documents - which cannot at this stage be disclosed - place the DPCI and its head at the centre of this alleged illegal rendition."

Nhleko said various regional and international protocols and conventions dealing with extradition had been flouted by the illegal rendition.
"The issue before us is about human rights. And it is about violations of those human rights conducted in our name and the name of the state."

Nhleko said accountability was the hallmark of a constitutional democracy.

"I regard accountability as the hallmark of a constitutional democracy, especially from a high office such as the DPCI.

"Similarly, I also do regard myself as accountable within the parameters of my statutory powers, and I am therefore compelled to act against such heinous crimes."

Nhleko dismissed allegations of political partisanship in the matter.

Surrender certain files

"Since this issue arose, a lot has been said... [that] political partisanships were behind the steps that have been taken. Various insinuations and allegations have been made.

"It was even suggested that [I] asked General Dramat to surrender certain files pertaining to some sensitive investigations, Nkandla [President Jacob Zuma's residence] being one of them. This is not true.

"I respect the work of the Hawks, and I respect that they have got to be sufficiently independent in the conduct of their work."

In his letter to Beukman, Nhleko said that until the legal issues around Dramat's suspension were settled, "my hands to institute disciplinary proceedings against the head of the DPCI remain tied".

The minister also told Beukman he was saddened by the fact "that the serious allegations that are made against the head of the DPCI have been obfuscated and obscured by the legal wrangling on whether or not I have the power to suspend him".

Suspended Hawks boss Anwa Dramat has been placed on leave following an agreement he reached with Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, a spokesperson said last week.

"General Dramat and the minister agreed that the general will be on leave while they try to finalise other processes," Nhleko's spokesperson Musa Zondi said.

"They met on 29 January and they agreed that the general will be on leave while their lawyers try to come to some sort of agreement."

Judge Bill Prinsloo on Friday ruled in the North Gauteng High Court that his 23 January order allowing Dramat to return to work remained in effect, irrespective of any other appeal that may be brought.

Prinsloo also ruled that Nhleko's decision to appoint Major General Berning Ntlemeza as acting national Hawks head was unlawful and invalid.

Dramat was suspended on 23 December, pending a probe into his alleged involvement in the illegal rendition of four Zimbabweans in November 2010.

Read more on:    helen suzman foundation  |  ipid  |  hawks  |  anwa dramat  |  nathi nhleko  |  shadrack sibiya  |  pretoria

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