The high court in Pretoria on Thursday granted the state a postponement until Monday to defend the constitutionality of their decision to suspend Hawks national head Anwa Dramat.
The case was brought by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) who is challenging the right of the minister of police to suspend Dramat based on the Constitutional Court previous decision which recognised the need for the unit to remain independent.
David Unterhalter, for the foundation, argued that Dramat – in his response to his precautionary suspension – said he was involved in some high profile cases.
Unterhalter argued that it was urgent that Dramat’s suspension be overturned. Decisions made in his absence that were “not easily reversible”, he told the court.
Lawyers for the state said they had not been given sufficient time to respond to a matter that the police ministry agreed was important and of constitutional significance.
They said the application had only been served to them on January 15 and they had been required to submit an answering affidavit by Tuesday this week.
Aware since December
Unterhalter said that they had been aware since December 30 that the foundation planned to challenge the legality of Dramat’s suspension after the Constitutional Court ruled that the section of the South African Police Amendment Act, giving the minister power to suspend the head of the Hawks, is unconstitutional.
This decision had to be made in consultation with Parliament.
Dramat was initially suspended under the police act, but his suspension was later listed under the Public Service Act.
The probe into Dramat relates to his alleged involvement in the illegal rendition of Zimbabwean nationals in 2010 and 2011.