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Sam Sole & Sally Evans
27 Mar 2015 00:00
In the wars: Hawks boss Anwa Dramat has been in limbo since December last year when he was suspended for the alleged illegal rendition of four Zimbabweans, a charge he denies. Photo: Paul Botes, MG
Police commissioner General Riah Phiyega has sent discharge papers to embattled Hawks boss Anwa Dramat (46), offering him a R3-million severance payment as of March 31 and R60 000 a month thereafter until he turns 60.
According to a source close to the process, Phiyega made the offer on behalf of Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.
Another source said there were still negotiations over outstanding issues including medical aid.
Nhleko’s spokesperson declined to comment, saying it was “a confidential matter between an employer and an employee”.
Dramat also declined to comment and would only say that he was still a South African Police Service (SAPS) employee.
Section 35 of the SAPS Act provides that Phiyega may discharge a police member “in the interest of the service” – though it is not clear whether such a move can be applied to Dramat, given the recent Constitutional Court ruling limiting the way in which the head of the directorate for priority crime investigation head – the Hawks – can be removed.
Dramat has been in limbo since December 2014 when Nhleko purported to “suspend” him over allegations that he was involved in the illegal deportation of Zimbabwean criminal suspects in 2010.
It is not clear how the attempt to cut a deal with Dramat aligns with Nhleko’s claims he has serious criminal allegations to answer.
Dramat has denied being involved in or authorising the illegal renditions.
In a letter to the minister, Dramat blamed the move against him on his attempts to investigate high-profile people.
He later told his lawyers he believed the trigger was his bid to have the Hawks take over the investigation of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla security upgrade.
The Pretoria high court ruled the suspension illegal and void but Dramat has remained on leave pending the resolution of his future.
The Helen Suzman Foundation, which originally obtained the Pretoria ruling, is considering applying for a contempt of court order against Nhleko.
It is understood the foundation wrote to Nhleko giving him until Friday, March 13, to remove the acting commander of the Hawks, Major General Benny Ntlemeza, and to return Dramat to office – as ordered by the court.
Nhleko has ignored the deadline and Ntlemeza remains in his post, despite another Pretoria judge calling Ntelemeza a liar this week.
Meanwhile Zuma’s Praetorian Guard is grinding down his other enemies in the security cluster in what appear to be co-ordinated moves.
Joining Dramat in the crosshairs are his perceived allies, who include Gauteng Hawks commander Shadrack Sibiya, KwaZulu-Natal Hawks commander Johan Booysen and his deputy Brigadier Simon Madonsela – as well as Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride.
At the same time there has been a remarkable effort to shield Zuma’s perceived ally at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Nomgcobo Jiba.
McBride and SibiyaNhleko suspended McBride on Tuesday, citing his alleged interference in the rendition investigation.
In a draft report from January 2014 being cited by the minister, the IPID found Dramat and Sibiya were directly involved in the alleged rendition of four Zimbabweans in late 2010.
According to a final report, signed off by McBride in March 2014, they were supposedly cleared on the basis of additional evidence.
Although Dramat appears set to go, McBride is fighting back.
His lawyer, Jac Marais, confirmed to amaBhungane that McBride is pursuing his legal challenge over whether the minister has the constitutional power to remove him.
Nhleko suspended McBride just short of a week after the Pretoria high court held that McBride’s application to restrain the minister from suspending him was not sufficiently urgent. The court noted his constitutional argument had merit.
McBride, who was appointed to head the police watchdog early last year, becomes the third senior law enforcement official to face suspension over the Zimbabwean rendition allegations.
Two high courts, however, have overturned the suspensions of Dramat and Sibiya.
In the latest judgment, Pretoria Judge Elias Matojane took aim at Ntlemeza, calling him dishonest, lacking integrity and biased in the manner in which he dealt with Sibiya’s suspension.
Ntelemeza’s spokesperson, Hangwani Mulaudzi, said: “Major General Ntlemeza has opted not to comment on the judge’s remarks at this stage because he has decided to appeal …”
Sibiya, who by court order is allowed to return to work, remains on sick leave after he was involved in a car accident last week.
Madonsela, Booysen and JibaMadonsela was issued with a notice of suspension after he was arrested this week on charges related to fraud and corruption.
He is seen as a key ally of Booysen, who is locked in battle with Phiyega and Jiba over his temporary arrest and suspension in connection with the hit squad allegations levelled against the Cato Manor Serious Violent Crimes Unit.
Madonsela used to head the Cato Manor team.
Madonsela appeared in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday in relation to an alleged bribe of R28 000.
Mulaudzi said Madonsela was allegedly “approached to assist in a case of a person who went missing in 2008”.
In a statement this week the Hawks’ Mulaudzi claimed that Madonsela received the money during 2010 and 2011.
The missing person case apparently went nowhere, which is why the “aggrieved family” reported Madonsela to the police in February this year, according to Mulaudzi.
The Mercury reported on Thursday that magistrate Logan Naidoo queried Madonsela’s high-profile arrest at his office, saying it “smacked of an agenda”.
Madonsela’s lawyer told the court he believed “there are other forces at play”, the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile Jiba, a deputy director of the NPA, apparently went awol this week after the prosecuting authority claimed it was unable to serve Jiba with a summons to appear in court in April on charges relating to fraud and perjury.
Jiba’s matter is linked to the failed prosecution of Madonsela’s boss. Booysen was arrested in 2012 along with the Cato Manor unit members, which was among divisions that fell under his command.
Jiba, who was then acting head of the NPA, pursued charges against Booysen relating to murder, defeating the ends of justice and racketeering, but was severely admonished by high court Judge Trevor Gorven in February last year.
Gorven, who set aside the charges and withdrew the case against Booysen, found that Jiba had acted unconstitutionally and that the charges against Booysen did not meet the minimum requirements needed for a successful prosecution.
Booysen argued that Jiba had lied under oath because she had claimed to have considered evidence that she could not have seen at the time she made her decision.
This week the NPA said the charges were in respect of Jiba’s “authorisation of racketeering charges against Major General Booysen on the basis of having had due regard to the veracity of the said charges”.
The attempt to serve a summons on Jiba descended into farce when police spokesperson Solomon Makgale denied that the police had wanted to issue Jiba with a summons. He added that the police were still investigating and were not ready for the matter to go to court.
In response, national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana – who is facing an inquiry into his own fitness for office – called in to a radio station to warn that Makgale was telling lies.
He said that Phiyega phoned him after the NPA announced police detectives had attempted to serve a summons on Jiba. “When the national commissioner called me, she sounded hysterical. I said, ‘Is this how you treat all matters normally?’?” he was quoted as saying.
Nxasana said he had raised concerns with Phiyega over her involvement in the investigation into his deputy as it might suggest undue interference.
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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.
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