Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s comments that Hawks head Anwa Dramat was suspended because he investigated high-level corruption is mischievous and irresponsible, the presidency said on Wednesday. The presidency said it wished to raise a serious concern about continued utterances by Zille.
“The SAPS [SA Police Service] has indicated a few times that Mr Dramat was not investigating anything related to the residence [Zuma’s Nkandla residence],” the presidency said in a statement.
“The ongoing comments by Premier Zille, which are designed to drag the President into an employer-employee matter at SAPS are incorrect, mischievous and irresponsible.”
However, Zille told Sapa that all the evidence pointed to the fact that Dramat was sidelined because of his investigation into corruption.
“President Jacob Zuma will not tolerate any institutional state doing its job of uncovering corruption,” she said.
“I stand by that statement as all the circumstantial evidence points to that and Jacob Zuma brought no evidence to the contrary.”
In her weekly newsletter, Zille said available information seems to suggest that Dramat was suspended because he investigated high-level corruption.
“Dramat’s mistake was that his forensic investigations came too close to Zuma Inc — the president [Jacob Zuma], his family and their network of patronage,” Zille claimed.
She reached this conclusion using the “duck test”: “If something looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck,” she said.
“Of course, the ‘duck’ in this case refers to a purge of anyone who gets too close to investigating corruption in Zuma’s network.”
She conceded, however, that “this is a very complex case”.
Zille said Zuma closed the Hawks’ predecessors, the Scorpions, while he was awaiting charges of fraud and corruption, which were subsequently withdrawn; Dramat was suspended in December even though the Constitutional Court ruled in November that a clause giving the police minister the power to do this was unconstitutional.
The DA knew, on the grounds of a meeting between Dramat’s lawyers and Robert McBride, head of the Independent Police Investigating Directorate (Ipid), that Dramat was cleared of alleged involvement in renditions to Zimbabwe.
“After the Constitutional Court ruling in November, Dramat asked for the Nkandla file to be handed over to the Hawks for investigation.
“… SA Police Service did not comply, and shortly after this Dramat was suspended by [Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko].”
Zille questioned the timing of Dramat’s suspension, given that her party understood the Ipid probe clearing him was concluded nine months previously.
His replacement Maj-Gen Benny Ntlemeze’s target appeared to be Lt-Gen Johan Booysen, head of the Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal, because he started investigating influential people linked to Zuma, she said. On Monday the High Court in Pretoria heard an application by the Helen Suzman Foundation for Nhleko’s decision to suspend Dramat to be set aside. Judgment was reserved.
Nhleko’s spokesman Musa Zondi told reporters that the minister was prepared to meet Dramat to iron out issues.
“There is no witch-hunt. Once you take that out, anything is possible. The minister has an open mind,” he said. SAPA