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HSF Dramat application postponed

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The urgent court application by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) to set aside the suspension of Hawks boss Anwa Dramat has been postponed to Monday next week.

This was after the legal representatives for HSF and Police Minister Nathi Nhleko reached an agreement in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday in Judge Bill Prinsloo’s chambers about the urgency of the case.

The postponement will allow the Minister to file an opposing affidavit and heads of argument in the application.

The application will now be heard on Monday, 19 January, at 8am.

Earlier, the HSF had strenuously opposed Nhleko’s bid to postpone its legal challenge.

The minister’s lawyer, William Mokhari SC, had argued that the HSF had not followed court rules with regard to the filing of their urgent application, resulting in the minister not having enough time to file opposing papers.

He said there would be “no blood on the wall” if the application was heard on Tuesday next week.

“I understand their anger and concern… but their anger cannot take precedence over the rules of court,” he said.

Mokhari said HSF and Dramat were entitled to their view that the minister had acted unlawfully, but the minister was entitled to put his view that he had acted legally before court.

HSF wants the court to set aside Nhleko’s decision to suspend Dramat and appoint an acting head Maj-Gen Ntlemeza in his place.

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

HSF maintains the wording of the SA Police Service Act of 1995, in terms of which the minister purportedly made the decision, had been struck down by the Constitutional Court, making Dramat’s suspension invalid.

David Unterhalter SC, for HSF, argued that the “decapitation” of the head of such a critically important crime and corruption fighting unit was gravely damaging to his office and public confidence in the independence of the unit.

“The longer this (unlawful action) goes on, the worse the damage becomes,” he said.

Dramat said in an affidavit he was aware that certain sensitive investigations might be closed down or shifted.

“…The public wants to know this institution is free from political interference,” he said.

Unterhalter argued that if the minister was allowed to put someone more to his liking in the position it meant top officials could be suspended on short notice if they incurred the wrath of the minister.

“Every day that goes by is another day where the public says this is another failed institution,” he argued. SAPA

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