Police Minister Nathi Nhleko briefs the media. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Parliament - President Jacob Zuma’s government has spent more than R17 million in pursuing top officials in state institutions who are seen to be his opponents.

They include former Hawks head Anwa Dramat, ex-Gauteng Hawks chief Shadrack Sibiya and Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) boss Robert McBride.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko revealed the startling amount in Parliament on Monday in response to the DA’s questions.

The question came from DA MP Zakhele Mbhele, who described the the four cases as “political witch-hunts”.

Nhleko recently had a fight with Parliament about its failure to discipline McBride.

Speaker Baleka Mbete said she would raise the matter with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, as leader of government business.

Ramaphosa will be in Parliament on Wednesday to answer questions on labour, students’ protests and the peace process in Sudan.

MPs may use the opportunity to ask him about his intervention in the spat between Nhleko and Mbete.

In the written reply to Mbhele, Nhleko confirmed that R6.7m was spent in the case against McBride.

The matter ended in the Constitutional Court, which led to McBride returning to his job after several months on suspension as Ipid head.

The court found that Nhleko did not have the authority to suspend McBride - that role belonged to Parliament.

But the period in which to institute disciplinary action against McBride lapsed, leading to Nhleko firing a broadside against Mbete.

The police have also spent R6.4m in pursuing Sibiya in the courts.

He was dismissed from the Hawks in September last year for the illegal renditions of Zimbabweans following an internal disciplinary hearing.

In April, Sibiya was found not guilty of fraud in court.

Sibiya, Dramat and Hawks official Lesley Maluleke are still facing charges for the illegal rendition of the Zimbabweans.

Nhleko said the police had spent R3.7m in legal costs to pursue former Hawks boss in KwaZulu-Natal Johan Booysen.

He has been in and out of court several times after the police suspended him, only for the courts to set aside the suspensions.

The legal bill will probably rise because the matter hasn’t been concluded.

The police have spent more than R825 000 in matters pertaining to Dramat.

Dramat was replaced by Lieutenant-General Berning Ntlemeza after he left the Hawks because of a fallout with Nhleko.

The Department of Justice told Parliament more than two weeks ago that the state spends millions of rand in legal fees every year.

It said the police and the Department of Health had huge legal bills.

Some of the cases related to lawsuits for wrongful arrest and negligence against the two departments.

However, some departments are also sued for different reasons.

The Department of Justice is trying to streamline the work of the state attorney’s office to cut the huge legal bill facing departments.

Legal fees continue to rise every year and the government needs to find cost-effective measures to rein in the costs.

Political Bureau