Daily Maverick

NPA withdraws bogus charges against former Hawks head Anwa Dramat

The National Prosecuting Authority has confirmed that it has withdrawn a bogus charge against former Hawks head, Anwa Dramat, cooked up by Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli in 2010 about an illegal rendition of Zimbabwean suspects who were then murdered. The charges led to the suspension not only of Dramat but also of Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya, as well as Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride.

As a result of the charges, initially reported on by the Sunday Times (the report appears to have been removed from the Times Live website), Dramat was replaced by the now disgraced and dismissed Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza. Ntlemeza quickly went about capturing the Hawks, making over 20 appointments.

In 2014 Dramat, a former Umkhonto we Sizwe operative, Western Cape deputy police commissioner and then Hawks head, was suspended by then Police Minster Nathi Nhleko pending an investigation by IPID with regard to the alleged “rendition”. Dramat later resigned in 2015, accepting a R3 million severance package.

Dramat wrote to Nhleko after his suspension saying he had been targeted as he was investigating “dockets implicating influential people” including former President Jacob Zuma’s “Nkandla” matter. Dramat intimated that he feared for his life and was willing to go on early retirement on condition that the minister lifted his suspension.

It was later proven that former Crime Intelligence Head, Richard Mdluli, had been behind the manufacturing of the charges.

There were initially two IPID investigations, the first implicating Dramat, and the second, signed off by McBride, clearing him. McBride was subsequently suspended by Nhleko. McBride was later vindicated when the Constitutional Court ruled Nhleko’s suspension of him was unconstitutional.

In 2015, the Helen Suzman Foundation went to court to challenge the suspension of Dramat and the appointment of Ntlemeza to replace him in an acting capacity. Judge Bill Prinsloo in the North Gauteng High Court ruled that both decisions should be set aside, and that the suspension of Dramat was unconstitutional and illegal as it was beyond Nhleko’s power to do so. Nhleko at the time filed an application to appeal the decision.

Nhleko, appearing before parliament’s police committee in 2015, accused those who charged him with suspending Dramat for political reasons as “racist”.

I am convinced that because the lives involved and the lives at stake are those of black people, therefore, all that the colonial forces can do is prop up the debate, and for it to be about the institutional arrangements of the Hawks,” Nhleko told the committee. “Had the lives involved been those of white people, the debate and headlines would have been about human rights.”

The withdrawal of the charges brings to an end a disgraceful abuse of the Hawks and the NPA against those viewed as “political opponents” of Jacob Zuma and others implicated in the Nkandla and other matters.

The path is now open for the seasoned Dramat to join the State Security Agency after the departure or redeployment of its controversial head Arthur Fraser who has been accused of running a shadow network at the SSA.

Dramat did not respond to questions sent to him by Daily Maverick. DM

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