The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) are to approach the Pretoria High Court in a bid to challenge the suspension of Hawks boss, Anwar Dramat. They are hoping the court will take into account a previous ruling on the matter by the Constitutional Court, and have the suspension declared invalid.
Dramat was suspended on the 23rd December by Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko, following allegations of his involvement in the illegal rendition of a Zimbabwean national in November 2010. The move has however provoked widespread condemnation, with many suggesting some form of political interference in his removal from office.
HSF researcher, Chris Pieters, said central to his organizations mandate was to try and uphold the rule of law in the country, as well as to promote constitutional democracy. Hence in the context of Dramat’s suspension, they viewed the minister’s decision to be in violation of certain fundamental constitutional principles.
Amongst the main concerns has been that the suspension comes despite a Constitutional Court ruling aimed at giving the Hawks more freedom from government, as well as limiting the ministers ability to suspend or fire the head of the elite crime fighting unit.
“On the 23d December the minister of police suspended the national head of the Hawks, and this very suspension goes against what that (constitutional) court ruling was,” he stated.
Amidst an intensive to remove Dramat from office, Pieters said the HSF had chosen to approach the Constitutional Court in November to seek clarity on several issues. These included the ‘suspension and removal’ capabilities of the minister, the ‘extension of tenure’, as well as issues surrounding the jurisdiction of the Hawks. In the case of the former, the court ruled that the minister’s freedom to remove the head of the Hawks from office, would pose a threat to Dramat’s job security.
“They then went further on to do something that they very rarely do, as to show the urgency of bringing some certainty to the Hawks. In their judgment, the Constitutional Court actually deleted the provisions that gave the minister un-channeled powers to suspend and remove the head,” he said.
Pieters was reluctant however to get involved in any discussion of political interference in the matter, stressing that the HSF’s efforts were simply aimed at looking at the facts of the situation.
“As soon as we divulge into the realms of the political, we tend to get sidetracked. People are entitled to think that there is a lot of political interference, but from the point of the foundation, and just in terms of what the law says, those are the grounds we work on,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)