AN ARBITRATION into the dismissal of former Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya was put on hold on Wednesday, after it emerged that lawyers representing the police had not been paid for a year.
Sibiya is one of number of senior officials who left the elite crime fighting unit over allegations of unlawful renditions of five Zimbabweans wanted at home for the murder of a policeman. National head Anwa Dramat denied involvement and took early retirement rather than fight the allegation.
Sibiya was fired after a disciplinary inquiry found him guilty of gross misconduct for his alleged role in the renditions.
However, he has challenged his dismissal in the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council, saying it was unfair. The bargaining has the equivalent status as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.
The hearing was meant to begin on Wednesday morning, but only the police’s former attorney, Phetheni Nkuna from Hogan Lovells, turned up.
Nkuna said counsel for the police, William Mokhari SC, had withdrawn, and her firm was also withdrawing as attorneys of record, owing to the police’s failure to pay “quite a substantial amount” for representing the police at the disciplinary inquiry last year.
She said the representatives of her former client — a major-general — were not able to come because they said they did not have transport. The major-general asked for a postponement.
But Sibiya’s counsel, Paul Kennedy SC, opposed the postponement, saying the Public Finance Management Act required payment within 30 days. Yet it was almost a year since the police was supposed to pay.
“If they had any serious intention to defend this (case) in a responsible way, they would have paid their bills,” he said.
He said Sibiya was “entitled to justice”, and that by granting a postponement, when there was no factual basis for it or evidence of good faith, would be to deny him justice.
He said he was “astounded” that a major-general of the South African Police Service did not have transport, even offering to pay for his Uber taxi.
“With respect, they’re playing games and this is not acceptable,” he said.
Arbitrator Paul Kirstein said he would not postpone, but would “stand the matter down” until Thursday.