UPDATE: The Hawks boss Nkandla-based suspension is “unconstitutional”

Anwa Dramat hawksBeing the man in charge of handling sensitive investigations can be a dangerous job. The Hawks are the police unit charged with investigating the stuff no one else wants to touch, and as Hawks boss Anwa Dramat is discovering – there’s a reason no one else wants the job. – FD

From the SA Press Association

The suspension of Hawks boss Anwa Dramat is unconstitutional, according to a recent court ruling, his advocate Johan Nortje told Radio 702 on Tuesday.

“The most important aspect of the Constitutional Court judgment on November 27 is that the suspension clause has been deleted,” Nortje said in an interview.

“The court was quite clear to say that the clause is constitutionally inconsistent and should be deleted from the date of the order.”

Nortje was referring to a judgment in a case dealing with the constitutionality of legislation to establish the elite police unit.

As part of a larger ruling, the Constitutional Court declared that certain defects in the law — such as the “untrammelled” power given to the police minister to dismiss the head of the hawks — were to be “severed”.

Yet, said Nortje, “10 days later, the minister used that suspension power that was deleted by the Constitutional Court”.

On December 23, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko suspended Dramat, allegedly for his involvement in the illegal rendition of Zimbabweans in 2010.

Nortje dismissed this reasoning as “nonsense” and “baseless”.

“It’s quite clear that there are politics that are involved here,” he said.

Dramat’s legal team have given Nhleko until January 5 to lift the suspension. – SAPA

By Janice Kew of Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Anwa Dramat, head of South Africa’s specialist police unit known as the Hawks, was suspended because he refused to hand over cases he was investigating to authorities, his lawyer said.

Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko “clearly got an instruction” to get rid of Dramat, his attorney Johann Nortje said by mobile phone today. Dramat was “dealing with sensitive matters which he is not willing to hand over to the police commissioner because she is not entitled to interfere with his work,” he said.

Dramat was suspended for 60 days from Dec. 23 pending an investigation into allegations of his involvement in illegal rendition of Zimbabwean nationals in 2010.

Nortje said Dramat is being “targeted” because of his work, without disclosing details about the cases he was investigating. The Johannesburg-based Sunday Times reported yesterday that Dramat refused to hand over files relating to Nkandla, President Jacob Zuma’s homestead, a 60 million-rand ($5.2 million) fraud case, and an investigation into a senior ruling party official in the Northern Cape province.

Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega and Dramat never discussed the investigations referred to in the Sunday Times and she didn’t request any files to be submitted, her spokesman Solomon Makgale said in a mobile-phone text message.

The suspension is an “interference in the unit” and “unconstitutional,” Nortje said. Dramat may approach the courts if he isn’t reinstated by next week, he said.

Nkandla Renovations

Zuma, 72, has faced increasing criticism from opposition political parties after the graft ombudsman said in a March 19 report that he should repay part of the 215 million rand in public funds spent on renovating his home in Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal province. The ruling African National Congress and a ministerial task team absolved Zuma of blame.

The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, said in a Dec. 24 statement that Nhleko’s suspension was contrary to a Constitutional Court ruling on Nov. 27 that prevents the minister from removing the head of the Hawks.