Police spokesman Musa Zondi on Monday confirmed that Minister Nathi Nhleko has asked law firm Werksmans to probe the Ipid’s findings on the Hawks, but said the minister has never raised the matter with directorate head Robert McBride.
“The minister first wants to get the cold facts,” Zondi said of Nhleko’s decision to get a legal opinion on why a final Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) report exonerated Hawks boss Anwa Dramat of the illegal rendition of five Zimbabweans.
“To some people that may be back to front, but not to us.”
Zondi said a City Press report published on Sunday that Nhleko had accused McBride of deliberately changing a draft report to clear McBride and was mulling suspending the Ipid boss were false.
“It is not accurate. The minister has not spoken to McBride. He may do so, but for now it has not happened and it is not happening.”
He said it would depend on Werksmans’ findings — expected this week or next — whether the minister would seek an explanation from McBride.
“If he will ask that question it will be because of the answer he gets (from Werksmans Attorneys) but it does not follow that he is going to talk to McBride.”
Francois Beukman, a former Ipid boss and current chairman of Parliament’s portfolio committee on police, has reportedly rejected a request from McBride for a special sitting of the committee to explain the directorate’s position.
Beukman said the issues McBride raised were being dealt with in Nhleko’s request to the committee in January to suspend Dramat.
The minister in January lost an appeal against a court decision setting aside Dramat’s suspension, but the Hawks boss remains on special leave.
The Hawks are in the meanwhile appealing a High Court in Pretoria decision setting aside as unlawful the suspension of its Gauteng boss, Shadrack Sibiya, who has indicated he plans to return to work.
Democratic Alliance police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard said on Monday she had written to Beukman demanding Nhleko be investigated by the committee for interfering with Ipid and unlawfully suspending Dramat.
Kohler Barnard said she believed the minister was seeking to use McBride as a scapegoat “in a last-ditch effort to legitimise his unlawful suspension of the head of the Hawks”.
She added that Nhleko was trying to exert political influence over the watchdog body. She said Beukman would be implicit in this if he were to refuse the opposition’s request to the committee to investigate the minister’s conduct.
“If the chairperson ignores or declines our request, he is in fact condoning the police minister’s conduct and is implicit in the systematic erosion of these crime fighting bodies.”
In 2010, five men, including Witness Ndeya, Gordon Dube and Pritchard Tshuma, were illegally repatriated to Zimbabwe by the Hawks. The proper extradition process was not followed. Ndeya and Dube were allegedly murdered by Zimbabwean police.
In a draft report, Ipid found Dramat and Sibiya were directly involved in the renditions. According to the final report, compiled in March 2014, they were cleared on the basis of additional evidence. SAPA