Anwar Dramat, former head of Hawks, and two colleagues are accused of the illegal rendition of Zimbabweans. File picture: Antoine de Ras

Pretoria - Defence lawyers representing former head of Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks), Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat, and his two co-accused on Friday told the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court that their clients would seek the police ministry’s intervention in paying for their legal costs.

Dramat was appearing along with suspended Gauteng Hawks boss, Major General Shadrack Sibiya and the Hawks Captain Lesley Maluleke over their alleged involvement of the illegal rendition of Zimbabwean immigrants in 2010 and 2011.

According to the defence lawyers, Michael Twala, Victor Nkhwashu and Johnny Nortje, representing Maluleke, Sibiya and Dramat respectively, it was the responsibility of the police ministry to cover their clients’ legal costs in this case because the alleged crimes were committed during the course of their duties.

The three top cops were arrested in March for their alleged involvement in the arrest seven Zimbabwean immigrants and subsequent unlawful handing over of four fugitives to the Zimbabwean police for arrest in November 2010 and January 2011.

Dramat and his co-accused are facing seven charges including four counts of kidnapping, two counts of defeating the end of justice and one count of contravention of the Immigration Act.

They have been released on R5 000 bail each.

The State asked the court to postpone the matter to June 3 for final indictment and for it to then refer the case to high court for trial. It is expected that the matter would be heard in the North Gauteng High Court from 10 October to early December.

According to Nkhwashu, speaking on behalf of the defence team representing all the three accused, the prosecution gave the disclosures to the defence two weeks ago and the defence team was ready for trial, despite the fact that their clients were seeking financial assistance from the police ministry.

“If the state alleges that the accused committed the crimes during their course of duties, then the minister of police must fund them for this trial because they are alleging that these acts were committed during the course of their duties.

Nkhwashu said their clients hoped that their application for financial assistance from Police Minister, Nkosinathi Nhleko, would be responded to as soon as possible so that the matter could be heard in court.

“All the three accused require financial assistance from the minister of police because they committed the alleged crimes while conducting their duties on behalf of the minister, hopefully the minister would have replied to our clients’ application for financial assistance before June 3 so that there are no delays because our clients are all eager to have this matter ventilated in the high court as soon as possible,” said Nkhwashu.

The police watchdog body, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has been investigating the case of the alleged illegal Zimbabwean rendition since 2012.