The state has agreed to pay for the legal representation of former Gauteng Hawks boss Shadrack Sibiya and former Hawks investigator Leslie Maluleke in their upcoming criminal trial for the alleged illegal rendition of a group of Zimbabweans.
Sibiya and Maluleke launched an application in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to force the state to pay for their legal counsel after controversial Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza agreed that the state would pay for predecessor Anwa Dramat’s legal representation but in June last year, refused the same assistance to Sibiya and Maluleke.
Former police minister Nathi Nhleko and Ntlemeza initially filed a notice that they intended opposing the application.
But new Police Minister Fikile Mbalula withdrew his opposition and agreed to the court granting an order in favour of the two former Hawks officials.
In court papers Sibiya, who now heads the DA-led City of Joburg’s anticorruption unit, accused Ntlemeza of acting arbitrarily and abusing his powers.
He alleged Ntlemeza did not have the authority to make such a decision and could only make a recommendation to the police commissioner, rendering his decision unconstitutional and unlawful.
Sibiya, Dramat and former Hawks investigator Maluleke are facing charges of kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice and contravening the Immigration Act in relation to the 2010 rendition of Zimbabwean nationals, who were wanted for the alleged murder of a top policeman, to their country.
Maluleke is also facing three additional charges of theft.
Their criminal trial was postponed pending the outcome of their application for legal assistance.
Sibiya and Maluleke’s application to set aside Ntlemeza’s decision was initially postponed for the top police brass to file opposing papers.
Sibiya alleged he was not present when the alleged offences were committed, was not involved and never gave anyone any instruction to participate in the commission of any crimes.
Maluleke maintained Crime Intelligence head office had asked him to assist in their operation in Diepsloot.
Judge Bongani Mngadi set aside Ntlemeza’s decision and directed the national police commissioner to grant Sibiya and Maluleke’s application for assistance with the payment of their legal costs.
The rendition case has been at the centre of several public spats between Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride (who cleared Dramat and Sibiya of any wrongdoing), the Hawks and Nhleko, when he was police minister.