The High Court also found the decision of the Minister to appoint Major General Berning Ntlemeza as acting National Head, to be unlawful and invalid – and accordingly also set that decision aside.

In a recent judgment by the Constitutional Court in Helen Suzman Foundation v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others and Glenister v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others, that Court held that the South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995 as amended (the Act), failed to secure (as required by International Law and the Constitution) 

These deficiencies, according to the Constitutional Court, included, among others, the 

Nonetheless, irrespective of fact that the appointment and removal of the Head of the DPCI is specifically regulated by the Act (and despite the Constitutional Court’s ruling), the Minister decided to rely on other, irrelevant legislation, to unilaterally suspend Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat for alleged misconduct.

Regardless of the reasons for the Minister’s decision or the seriousness of any alleged misconduct, no member of the Executive can act in contravention of the Constitution or the law. To do so after the Constitutional Court had explained its concerns in relation to the Minister’s powers raises serious questions about the Executive’s regard for the Courts, and the constitutional framework in terms of which they must govern.

As expressed by the Constitutional Court in the Helen Suzman Foundation case, the importance of the DPCI being shielded from political interference – especially regarding the investigation of corruption and other crimes potentially involving members of the Executive, cannot be overemphasised. The credibility of the DPCI, the criminal justice system as a whole and, ultimately, the Rule of Law, depends on it.

By Adv Johan Kruger, Director: Centre for Constitutional Rights