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Ex-Police Minister Probed Over High-Level Suspensions During His Time In Office

South African Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko speaks at the release of the 2013/2014 annual crime statistics at the South African Police Service Training Academy in Pretoria on September 19, 2014. The murder rate in crime-hit South Africa rose to almost 47 murders a day last year, according to damning police statistics released on September 19. Some 17,068 people were murdered in the country in the 12 months to March, police commissioner Riah Phiyega revealed, a five percent rise from the previous year. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER

Former police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko was on Tuesday grilled about his 2014 controversial removal of former Hawks head General Anwa Dramat and other suspensions of top cops in relation to the Zimbabwean renditions saga.

Nhleko took the stand before the Zondo Commission into state capture yesterday where he was responding to various allegations made against him by former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride and other officials of the directorate.

These included the improper firing of top cops within the Hawks in relation to the renditions of Zimbabwean citizens, including Dramat, and the suspension of McBride.

Last year, IPID investigator Innocent Kuba told the commission that he had been approached by General Berning Ntlemeza on December 6 who informed him to watch the news as there would be a “hit” on Dramat.

This was just a few days before Dramat was sent a notice of intention to suspend by Nhleko on December 9 and his eventual suspension and eventual replacement by Ntlemeza as head of the Hawks.

Nhleko however disputed that he had told Ntlemeza about his intention to remove Dramat and make him the replacement when questioned by evidence leader advocate, Garth Hulley.

“I just wonder why I would do that. I supervised General Dramat directly and that is precisely it. As to what this thing comes from about a general Ntlemeza who then engages with Kuba and they talk about whatever they talk about, which is I don’t know…I won’t come into that really,” he said.

Nhleko said he had however briefed then national commissioner of police Riah Phiyega and former President Jacob Zuma.

“It would not be fair to a president to hear from the media either about a contemplation letter being dispatched to a high police official or even eventual suspension,” he said.

McBride told the commission that Nhleko had suspended him in 2015 over the Ipid’s probe into the renditions saga, which was involved the illegal deportation of Zimbabwean citizens by SA law enforcement agencies who were wanted for alleged crimes in that country and some of which were later killed by the Zimbabwean police forces.

McBride said while the first, preliminary, report into the matter recommended that Dramat and his Gauteng counterpart Shadrack Sibiya be suspended and prosecuted for the saga, a final report which he submitted to Nhleko absolved them and instead recommended that then Hawks cross-border desk head Leslie “Cowboy” Maluleke be held accountable.

Nhleko defended his decision to only consider the first report and his subsequent suspension of McBride, and accused him of tempering with the original report in order to absolve Dramat and Sibiya.

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