Police on Tuesday dismissed reports that suspended Hawks boss Anwa Dramat was asked to provide information about the Nkandla investigation to police commissioner Riah Phiyega.
“Phiyega and… Dramat never discussed the Hawks’ investigations into Nkandla,” said the elite police unit’s spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko in a statement.
“The Hawks is not investigating the Nkandla matter.”
Instead, said Ramaloko, the National Investigation Unit, under Lt-Gen Vinesh Moonoo, was looking into the R246 million spent on upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
On Tuesday, Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said her party believed Dramat’s suspension — ordered by Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko on December 23 — was linked to Nkandla.
“The suspension of General Dramat came the day after he focused on the Nkandla files… She [Phiyega] has demanded that General Dramat hand over the files on Nkandla,” she said in a statement.
Kohler Barnard said she had heard allegations that Phiyega had asked for files on a number of other high-profile investigations, including one into alleged fraud involving Northern Cape ANC chairman John Block, and another into alleged corruption between MECs and businessman Toshan Panday in KwaZulu-Natal.
Ramaloko dismissed these claims, saying: “At no point did General Phiyega request Lt-Gen Dramat to submit any files to her.”
Earlier, during an interview with Radio 702, Dramat’s advocate Johan Nortje mentioned Nkandla as a possible reason behind the suspension.
“One has to look at the timing of the so-called suspension out of the blue… It’s exactly the time when the KZN investigations, and obviously the Nkandla investigation are at a very crucial point,” he told the broadcaster.
“It’s quite clear that there are politics that are involved here.”
Nortje said the reason given in a letter by Nhleko and Phiyega for Dramat’s suspension — that he was facing allegations into illegal rendition of Zimbabweans in 2010 — was “baseless”.
He said a report into the matter had cleared Dramat months ago.
Nortje said that, according to a recent court ruling, the suspension was unconstitutional.
“The most important aspect of the Constitutional Court judgment on November 27 is that the suspension clause has been deleted.”
Yet, said Nortje, “10 days later, the minister used that suspension power”.
The ruling was part of a larger judgment dealing with the constitutionality of legislation to establish the Hawks.
The court found certain defects in the laws — such as the “untrammelled” power given to the police minister to dismiss the head of the hawks –had to be “severed”.
Dramat’s lawyers have given Nhleko until January 5 to lift the suspension.