Dramat, McBride could be charged over tampering allegations

Robert McBride. (Gallo)

Robert McBride. (Gallo)

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko presented a report by legal firm Werksmans – which found an investigation into the illegal rendition of Zimbabweans in 2010 had been tampered with – to members of the portfolio committee on police on Monday.

MPs questioned Nhleko on the report’s recommendation that suspended Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride should face criminal charges for covering up the involvement of former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat and his colleagues in the illegal rendition of Zimbabwean nationals.

Werksmans investigated discrepancies contained in two Ipid reports into the rendition – the first implicated Dramat and the second, which was approved by McBride, cleared him.

Nhleko said the Werksmans report was with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and it would be up to them whether criminal charges should be pressed.

“It must be understood that prosecution is not my mandate, that will be up to the NPA. So I’m not going to be the one that takes a decision. The investigative report recommends that charges be laid, but that is not up to me,” he told MPs.

McBride to face disciplinary hearing
The report recommends that charges should be brought against Dramat, suspended Gauteng Hawks head, Shadrack Sibiya and, by extension, McBride, for allegedly doctoring the final report.

The minister said McBride would face a disciplinary hearing on Thursday, May 21.

Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald questioned the professionalism of the report due to glaring spelling errors and the Democratic Alliance’s Zakhele Mbhele questioned its credibility due to the tone of the report.
Nhleko acknowledged the mistakes and cautioned Mbhele over accusing him of bringing a falsified report to Parliament.

“You are then saying that the minister is appearing in front of the committee and intentionally bringing a [doctored] report to mislead the committee. Unless you have a way to substantiate that kind of allegation.”

When DA’s Dianne Kohler Barnard accused the minister of acting outside the law to commission the report, Nhleko said a minister with his kind of portfolio had an oversight duty and denied that McBride’s problems started because a scapegoat was needed for the Nkandla report.

The law firm reported that portions of statements of individuals who implicated Dramat’s involvement in the illegal renditions, which appear in the first report, had been deleted in the second report.

“Notwithstanding that the purported reasons for the publication of a second report do not appear to relate to Dramat, it is clear from a perusal of the first and second report, that a large volume of information that relates to, and in fact incriminates, Dramat which appeared in the first report, has been removed from the second report.

“These portions of the first report which were removed have the effect of distancing Dramat insofar as his involvement with the rendition is concerned. 

“Even if [Innocent] Khuba’s version of events is to be accepted and the decision was taken to change the recommendation in respect of Dramat due to the view that there was not enough information to prosecute Dramat, this still does not explain why information relating to Dramat was deleted,” says the report.

It goes on to recommend that “both criminal charges (contravention of the Immigration Act, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice or obstructing the administration of justice) and disciplinary charges be brought against Dramat in his capacity as an employee”.  

‘Acted outside authority’
The DA’s Kohler Barnard said the minister’s appearance before the committee was deeply problematic and added to the chaos already engulfing the police ministry. 

“There are several documents that have emanated from this debacle and they all do not speak to each other. It is therefore critical that Zuma heeds this call and institutes a judicial commission of inquiry headed up by a fair and impartial jurist who is committed to getting the full truth of the extent of corruption in our criminal justice system.

“Additionally, whether or not the allegations made in the Werksmans’ report are true, it must never be forgotten that the police minister acted outside his authority by contravening a Constitutional Court order prohibiting him from suspending Lieutenant-General Dramat on December 24 last year and installing an illegitimate acting Hawks head, Berning Ntlemeza, who must himself be subject of a judicial probe,” said Kohler Barnard in a statement.

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