The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) investigation into former Hawks leader Anwa Dramat’s involvement in the deportation of Zimbabweans in 2010 was used as a ploy to remove the top law enforcement official, the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture heard on Thursday 26 September.
IPID’s Limpopo head Innocent Khuba said he was under pressure to complete the investigation, which ultimately led to the sidelining of Dramat, Gauteng Hawks leader Shadrack Sibiya and, later, IPID boss Robert McBride – all of which helped facilitate the appointment of Berning Ntlemeza as the new boss of the Hawks.
“It seems that the whole investigation was aimed at getting rid of General Dramat,” Khuba told inquiry chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. “When I put the pieces of the puzzle, in terms of the wrong things that took place, in terms of the statement of Colonel [Ndanduleni] Madilonga, in terms of the pressure I was put under, I just realised it seems like the ultimate goal was to get rid of General Dramat.”
Khuba led the investigation into the alleged illegal rendition of five Zimbabweans and the case, which has been exposed as a conspiracy against the Hawks leaders at the time, eventually led to Dramat leaving the Hawks and being replaced with Ntlemeza, perceived to be more compliant to his political superiors.
Khuba said he met Ntlemeza, a former colleague, multiple times while he was investigating the renditions and Ntlemeza was keen for him to complete his investigation into the Hawks bosses so that he could advance his own career.
Khuba said Ntlemeza first told him “political principals” wanted to appoint him as IPID boss but the rendition investigation was holding up his appointment to the post. Around October 2013, Ntlemeza said the politicians had changed their minds and wanted to make him head of the Hawks, claimed Khuba.
Khuba said it was “very weird” that Ntlemeza had visited him at his home, having called his wife to arrange the meeting because he was concerned their phones were bugged. Ntlemeza did not mention a job advert or having had to apply for his supposed upcoming appointment to head the Hawks.
“It was like a good friend who spoke something weird,” said Khuba.
According to Khuba, Ntlemeza had recently met then suspended Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli at the airport and Mdluli had said he appreciated the work Khuba was doing in investigating the Hawks leaders and he should contact Ntlemeza should he feel his safety was at risk.
Khuba said he raised his concerns about his investigation into the renditions, such as information being leaked to the media, with acting IPID boss Koeki Mbeki, but she appeared unconcerned.
In Khuba’s last meeting with Ntlemeza, before the latter was appointed to lead the Hawks, Ntlemeza allegedly told him there was “good news” as there was about to be “a hit” on Dramat. Dramat was then suspended and Ntlemeza named to replace him.
A court later ruled that Ntlemeza’s appointment was unlawful and invalid.
“The so-called Zimbabwean rendition investigation is a smokescreen. There are no facts whatsoever that indicate that at any given time I have acted illegally or unlawfully,” Dramat wrote in a letter in 2016.
On Wednesday 25 September, IPID’s national head of investigations Matthews Sesoko told the Zondo inquiry how Mbeki had excluded him from involvement in the rendition investigation, which was unheard of for the official who was officially responsible for all IPID cases.
Sesoko said the investigation was irregular as, while he was barred from being involved, Crime Intelligence officers from Gauteng were assisting Khuba’s investigation.
Sesoko joined the investigation once McBride took over IPID, but their work on the matter led to all three – Sesoko, McBride and Khuba – being suspended. Updating the National Prosecuting Authority, Khuba had suggested Dramat face criminal charges for the renditions but, after reviewing the evidence, Sesoko and Khube decided there was no evidence that Dramat was involved and issued another report to that effect.
Nevertheless, Dramat was forced out of his post and former police minister Nathi Nhleko led the charge to have McBride, Sesoko and Khuba suspended for the discrepancies in two reports, which led to prolonged instability in IPID’s leadership.
Khuba will continue his testimony at the Zondo inquiry on Friday. He is expected to be followed by former Crime Intelligence officer Colonel Dhanajaya Gangulu Naidoo.
Zondo on Thursday ruled that Naidoo would deliver his testimony in-camera from a separate location as he is currently in the witness protection programme. He is expected to testify about alleged illegal activities within the SAPS Crime Intelligence unit. DM
"Man is by nature a political animal" ~ Aristotle