Former minister of police Nathi Nhleko has “disputed” and called it “unfair speculation” that he communicated with former Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza about a “hit” on the latter’s predecessor, former Hawks head Anwa Dramat.
On 9 December 2014, Nhleko gave Dramat a notice of suspension after the latter was implicated in the Zimbabwe rendition saga and the former minister ultimately suspended the former Hawks head on 23 December 2014, the commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Tuesday.
According to testimony and an affidavit at the commission both by Limpopo head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) Innocent Khuba, on 6 December 2014 he, Khuba, was approached by Ntlemeza who told him to watch the news because there was going to be “a hit on Dramat”.
“I just wonder as to why would I do that, chair,” Nhleko said, denying that he had been in communication with Ntlemeza about Dramat’s pending suspension.
Nhleko said he would not “come into that, really”, with regards to Ntlemeza engaging with Khuba.
“I absolutely have no reason to speak to another employee about the fact of another employee,” Nhleko said.
Evidence leader at the commission, Advocate Garth Hulley said it was “highly unlikely” that Ntlemeza had guessed that Dramat would be suspended considering that the latter was ultimately suspended and replaced by the former, asking Nhleko if this was a fair assessment.
“Its unfair speculation,” Nhleko said.
Hulley further questioned Nhleko whether he intended to ignore Dramat’s reasons why he should not have been placed on suspension.
Nhleko said he respects due processes and he is “very particular about them” when in a professional function or carrying out his duties, adding that he always avoided having “preconceived ideas” about what was to happen to an accused employee who had been issued a “contemplation letter”.
“And fair processes are critical, extremely critical,” Nhleko said, clarifying that he did not have the intention of ignoring Dramat’s representations as to why he should not have been placed on suspension.
Nhleko said he thought he must have read Dramat’s representations and must have written back to him.
In response to Hulley’s question, Nhleko asked “how” would he talk to Ntlemeza about him taking up a position Dramat held, “even yourself, how would you do it?”, saying he did not speak to Ntlemeza about him replacing Dramat.
“The question of talking comes very late,” Nhleko said, explaining that he would have assessed the files of employees who could have replaced Dramat and looked at their performances before deciding on who would take up the position.
“I think the advantage with the police is that its an order-based institution,” Nhleko said, saying he would have issued an order as to who would replace Dramat, which would have been followed.
Hulley asked Nhleko whether he had consulted any senior managers within the police about Ntlemeza replacing Dramat.
Nhleko said it was possible that he spoke to “a number of individuals in the police service” about this, including those he was considering after Dramat had made his submissions and it was clear that “further work” would be necessary which would require Dramat to be placed on suspension.
The former minister further said he would have “engaged” the national commissioner of the police at the time on the matter and the head of state.
He said he could not recall, however, whether either one had asked him who he was considering as Dramat’s replacement, but that he thought the national commissioner of the police at the time may have shared her suggestions with him.
The proceedings continue, watch live courtesy of the SABC: