Cops could be hauled to ICC for renditions

06 January 2015 - 02:12 By Graeme Hosken

Human rights organisations will not hesitate to haul senior police officers allegedly implicated in the rendition of Zimbabwean political dissidents before the International Criminal Court.

Gauteng Hawks boss Major-General Shadrack Sibiya, and the head of the Hawks team that allegedly handled renditions, Lieutenant-Colonel Leslie "Cowboy" Maluleka , were yesterday served with notices of intention to suspend them from duty. They are allegedly linked to the 2010 rendition of Zimbabwean s to their home country, where they were reportedly tortured.

At least three of those handed over to the Zimbabwean police were later found dead.

The suspensions were ordered a few weeks after Hawks head Lieutenant-General Anwar Dramat was suspended in connection with renditions.

Welcoming the suspensions, Zimbabwe Exiles Forum chairman Gabriel Shumba warned that if it thought that investigations and prosecutions were being compromised the organisation would approach the ICC.

"What has happened is good but we're doubtful about whether senior officers will face the law."

Shumba said the suspensions implied that there was now an opportunity for justice to take its course.

More notices of intention to suspend are being prepared for officers who served on the team that allegedly dealt with the renditions.

A source close to the police investigation into the rendition allegations said a number of officers were facing suspension.

"If these people are not suspended there will be serious implications not only for the police but for the country."

Danny Titus, an SA Human Rights Commission member, said that the complicity of the police would mean that South Africa had violated international protocols against torture.

"We could be brought before the UN committee overseeing the convention against torture, damaging our international image.

"If the allegations are true, it will be a strong [indication] of our double standards."

Professor Hennie Strydom, who holds the research chair in international law at Johannesburg University, said if evidence of complicity were found suspensions would not be sufficient.

"There [would be] obligations on South Africa to proceed with criminal prosecutions. These offences are serious breaches of international law."

Jacob van Garderen, of Lawyers for Human Rights, said South Africa had ratified the international convention against torture but not the accompanying protocol.

"The protocol ensures that those involved in torture are prosecuted."