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Sibiya suspension withdrawn, application collapses

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An application for details behind Gauteng Hawks head Maj-Gen Shadrack Sibiya’s notice of suspension was struck from the roll of the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“We have been advised that [the Hawks] have withdrawn the notice placing the applicant on precautionary suspension,” Sibiya’s lawyer, Naomi Manaka, told the court.

Sibiya’s lawyers had approached the court to get the reasons for his suspension, so that he could respond to the notice.

Manaka said now that the notice had been withdrawn, the request became moot and she asked that the matter be struck from the court roll. Judge David Gush did so.

The Hawks earlier confirmed the notice was withdrawn.

“Yes, it has been withdrawn. It was withdrawn yesterday [Tuesday] by [acting Hawks head] Gen Berning Ntlemeza,” Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed by phone, ahead of the matter being heard in court.

However, he would not divulge the reasons for the decision.

“Unfortunately, I can’t give the reasons why right now, as we still have the case at the Labour Court… It’s just a formality at court. We are just following protocol and seeing the matter finalised.”

The notice was served on Sibiya last Monday and he was given a week to provide reasons why he should not be suspended.

The charge reportedly related to Sibiya’s alleged involvement in facilitating the illegal rendition, or deportation, of Zimbabweans in November 2010.

Senior Hawks official Colonel Leslie Maluleke was also reportedly served with a notice of suspension last week, while Hawks boss Anwa Dramat was suspended on December 23 pending a probe into the illegal deportations.

Outside court on Wednesday, another of Sibiya’s lawyers, Victor Nkhwashu, said the Hawks would pay the costs of the application and that his client was back at work.

The letter of intended precautionary suspension Sibiya had received was “lacking in detail”, he said, prompting the court application.

It was previously reported that Sibiya and Maluleke headed the team that conducted the alleged illegal deportation of Zimbabweans suspected of killing a senior Zimbabwe policeman.

The City Press reported on Sunday that an Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) report had found no wrongdoing on the part of either Dramat or Sibiya in relation to the rendition allegations.

According to the news report, which states that two of the deported prisoners were allegedly killed by Zimbabwean police, the Ipid’s findings have now been handed to the National Prosecuting Authority.

Last month, during an interview with Radio 702, Dramat’s advocate Johan Nortje dismissed the reasons given for the suspension as “baseless”, saying that his client had already been cleared of wrongdoing regarding the alleged illegal deportations.

“It’s quite clear that there are politics that are involved here,” Nortje said at the time.

Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard previously said her party suspected Dramat’s suspension could be linked to investigations into security upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.

On December 30, however, the police dismissed reports that Dramat was asked to provide information about the Nkandla probe to police commissioner Riah Phiyega.

In the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday, the Helen Suzman Foundation is expected to seek an order for Dramat’s suspension to be declared invalid.

In a case dealing with the corruption fighting unit’s independence from the national executive in November, the Constitutional Court deleted a section of legislation dealing with the process through which the head of the Hawks could be suspended.

The court ruled that the police minister could only suspend the head once a parliamentary committee had conducted an investigation — an action that was not taken in the case of Dramat.

On January 29 Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko is expected to brief Parliament’s portfolio committee on police on developments around the Hawks leadership.

The committee said it wanted to be “fully briefed” on Dramat’s suspension and the appointment of acting head Maj-Gen Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza, committee chairman Francois Beukman said in a statement on Tuesday. SAPA

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