Former police minister Nathi Nhleko allegedly acted on an incorrect report when suspending former Hawks head Anwa Dramat, the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Thursday.
Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that Dramat was forced out of office and into early retirement and was then replaced by Berning Ntlemeza.
Dramat’s suspension stems from the so-called illegal rendition of five Zimbabweans.
McBride said when he was appointed as IPID executive in March 2014, he was briefed on the rendition case. However, it became clear to him that the case was not investigated independently in line with the IPID Act.
McBride told Zondo that he gave the task of overseeing all review processes to IPID national head of investigations, Matthew Sesoko, and told Innocent Khuba, who investigated the rendition matter in Limpopo, to report to Sesoko about the matter.
He said that Khubo had told him: “Boss, I was concerned and scared about this [rendition] case from when it was given to me.”
McBride told Zondo about a preliminary report which recommended that Dramat and former Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya be prosecuted.
However, after the phone records of those accused were analysed in the rendition case, the records of Sibiya showed he was nowhere near the areas where the Zimbabweans were tracked down and arrested, McBride said.
This is despite reports that Sibiya was present at the arrest of a group of Zimbabweans allegedly subjected to an illegal rendition.
The final report which was handed to the National Director of Public Prosecutions found that evidence related to Sibiya’s involvement could not support prosecution.
McBride told Zondo that further investigations revealed there was no element of crime committed related to Dramat, in the rendition case.
But after the appointment of Nathi Nhleko as police minister, Nhleko started a “reference” group which looked into many of the cases, McBride said.
McBride said some members of the group visited IPID to enquire about several matters, including the rendition case.
McBride added that the group was made up of public officials, including advocate Raymond Mathenjwa, who was seemingly unhappy about the explanation of the rendition case.
Mathenjwa asked for the docket and then minister Nhleko also wrote to request the docket and all other related documents.
McBride said after sending the requested information, a public statement was released saying that Dramat had been suspended as per an IPID recommendation. But McBride said this was not true.
He said the unsigned preliminary report which surfaced in the media, recommending criminal prosecution against Dramat and Sibiya, was not the report handed to Nhleko by him.
McBride also told Zondo that Nhleko later accused him of fraudulently altering the rendition case investigation report.
Last year, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria provisionally withdrew charges against Sibiya and Dramat.
Following the judgement, Sibiya expressed disappointment in the National Prosecuting Authority, saying he was hoping for a permanent stay of prosecution.
“As the judge said, the matter is provisionally withdrawn. I can’t say I am excited because we were charged based on false evidence,” Sibiya said at the time.
“We are sitting with false evidence that is in the docket and I don’t see why the NPA has just withdrawn provisionally because I am telling you now, the State won’t proceed.
“This was a manufactured type of evidence in this case. I’m really not happy that it was provisionally withdrawn, because it is still hanging at the end of the day,” Sibiya said.
The State said it was withdrawing the charges after it received considered representations from Dramat and Sibiya.
The hearing continues on Friday.[source: News24]