The ministry of police has spent R17.2 million of taxpayer’s money in legal fees on a “political witch-hunt” targeting three senior Hawks officers and the head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

For the first time, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko was forced to disclose the hefty sum he splurged on litigation in attempts to oust former national Hawks boss Anwa Dramat, former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen, former Gauteng Hawks boss Shadrack Sibiya and newly reinstated IPID head Robert McBride.

It seems, however, that Nhleko may have produced an incomplete list of proceedings instituted against Dramat, Booysen, Sibiya and McBride.

The figures detailed below are derived from a Parliamentary answer Nhleko submitted in reaction to Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Zakhele Mbhele’s questions.

Mbhele described the four cases as “political witch-hunts”.

“These figures are illustrative of the rot that has infected our law enforcement agencies, perverting justice and diverting scarce resources from key policing priorities,” Said Mbhele.

“The cost of these political witch-hunts is not just in the amount of legal fees paid but also in the lives of citizens traumatised or lost because the police service at station level is under-staffed, under-resourced and under-equipped as a direct result of SAPS funds being used in this shamefully wasteful manner.”

Dramat and Sibiya were suspended on questionable allegations that they authorised and were involved in an alleged illegal rendition of several Zimbabwean nationals in 2010. At least one Zimbabwean was reportedly killed by his country’s own police force.

The Helen Suzman Foundation challenged Dramat’s suspension and the state incurred R828 943.34 in motion proceedings, Nhleko said.

Nhleko suspended McBride, accusing him of covering up for Dramat and Sibiya in the rendition case by means of altering two investigation reports so as to divert blame away from the accused.

According to Nhleko, his department spent R6.7-million on motion proceedings in McBride’s suspension case and R6.4-million in Sibiya’s suspension case.

Booysen was accused of running an alleged Cato Manor hit squad in Durban.

He has won his suspension case and two disciplinary hearings, incurring a total cost to the state of R2.9-million.

Booysen further reviewed an arbitration case, costing the state a further R403 095.98.