Zondi said the meeting was postponed after Dramat’s lawyers indicated they wanted to be part of the deliberations.
“The lawyers sent a letter at the last moment to say they want to be part of the meeting and because they are based in Cape Town, it was clear it would not be feasible to go ahead with the meeting,” he said in a statement.
“A new date was proposed on January 22, but the minister will not be available on this day.”
A new date would be announced for the meeting, which was scheduled at the behest of General Dramat.
Earlier, Zondi told reporters at the High Court in Pretoria that Nhleko was prepared to meet Dramat to iron out issues.
“There is no witch-hunt. Once you take that out, anything is possible. The minister has an open mind,” he said.
Zondi addressed reporters after Judge Bill Prinsloo reserved judgment in a bid to overturn Dramat’s suspension.
Prinsloo said he understood the urgency of the matter and hoped to deliver judgment in a few days.
The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) had told the court it believed Nhleko acted unlawfully when he suspended Dramat.
“It is simply a case of unlawful conduct by the minister and we ask that the court intervenes,” said David Unterhalter SC, for HSF.
He said the law stipulated that the head of the crime combating unit could only be suspended following a parliamentary process.
“According to the SA Police Service Act, the minister does not have that power,” said Unterhalter.
“The minister has no option but to follow the parliamentary processes and in this case he has not done so.”
The HSF wants the court to set aside Nhleko’s decision to suspend Dramat. It also wants to court to overturn the decision to appoint Maj-Gen Berning Ntlemeza in Dramat’s place, in an acting position.
On December 23, Dramat was suspended, apparently pending a probe into his alleged involvement in the illegal rendition of four Zimbabweans in November 2010.
The HSF maintains the wording of the SA Police Service Act of 1995, in terms of which the minister purportedly made the decision, had been struck down by the Constitutional Court, making Dramat’s suspension invalid.
Unterhalter argued previously that the “decapitation” of the head of such a critically important crime and corruption fighting unit was gravely damaging to his office and public confidence in the independence of the unit.
“The longer this (unlawful action) goes on, the worse the damage becomes,” he said.
Dramat said in an affidavit he was aware that certain sensitive investigations might be closed down or shifted.
“The public wants to know this institution is free from political interference,” he said.
Unterhalter argued that if the minister was allowed to put someone more to his liking in the position, it meant senior officials could be suspended on short notice if they incurred the minister’s wrath.
“Every day that goes by is another day where the public says this is another failed institution,” he argued.