JOHANNESBURG — A conflict between South Africa’s two top specialist police crime-fighting units, crime Intelligence and the directorate for priority crime, better known as the Hawks, is threatening to destabilise the fight against crime in the country.
Gauteng Hawks boss major general Shadrack Sibiya, this week accused Crime Intelligence of a dirty-tricks campaign being waged against him and Hawks chief lieutenant general Anwa Dramat.
The tension between the two powerful units centres on accusations levelled against Dramat and Sibiya, who have, over the past three years, been investigated, but cleared by police of involvement in the illegal rendition of four men to Zimbabwe.
It has been claimed that one of the men was found murdered after he was handed over to police in Zimbabwe, but details still have to be revealed as the case has yet to go to court.
Rendition, an illegal act, involves the kidnapping and transfer of prisoners from one country to another. The police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), has been investigating the case for the past year.
This week Sibiya claimed there was a deliberate campaign to smear him and Dramat to undermine their powerful roles in the Hawks.
It is a matter of public record that Crime Intelligence reported the rendition matter to the police, Sibiya, who was formerly head of the now disbanded Scorpions crime-fighting unit in the Free State, said.
In an interview with the Mail&Guardian (M&G) on Wednesday, an emotional Sibiya said he is fed up with seeing his name in newspapers and having unsubstantiated accusations constantly levelled against him.
“It will be like trying to raise the dead to prove I was involved, because I have no knowledge of this rendition,” he said.
“General Dramat is not operational and also has no knowledge of it.”
As the Hawks believe their phones are being tapped, the interview was difficult to arrange and finally took place at the side of a road in Pretoria.
Forty-six-year-old Sibiya was accompanied by national Hawks spokesperson captain Paul Ramaloko, who later gave a startling response to the M&G’s follow-up questions, directed to police, and claimed there was no tension between Crime Intelligence and the Hawks.
“I know nothing about this rendition story and certainly never sanctioned it. I say IPID must bring it on,” a clearly furious Sibiya, who was smartly dressed in striped shirt and dark suit in the midday heat, said.
“We will show the courts this is all nonsense. I was not involved in any renditions and certainly have no knowledge of this rendition.”
Insisting that his wish would be for the matter to be finalised, even if it landed up in court, Sibiya said he has no choice now, but to defend himself, as public perception is important in the fight against crime.