Richard Mdluli: Comeback kid

2013-09-08 14:00

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National police commissioner wants murder-accused crime intelligence boss back at his desk.

Notorious police spy boss Richard Mdluli – who pledged to “assist” President Jacob Zuma ahead of the ANC’s Mangaung elective conference – is poised to come back in from the cold.

City Press can today reveal the acting head of the police’s beleaguered crime intelligence division, Chris Ngcobo, who was appointed caretaker after Mdluli’s suspension last year, has “abandoned” his post as a result of being undermined by a pro-Mdluli faction.

City Press has also confirmed national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega will this week lend her support to an argument that a North Gauteng High Court order barring Mdluli from returning to work should never have been granted.

The interim order was obtained last year by Freedom Under Law (FUL), in a court review of decisions by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the police to drop Mdluli’s criminal and disciplinary charges.

The case is scheduled to be heard this week, but it appears the review is on shaky ground, with FUL claiming the police and the NPA “deliberately” failed to file evidence of their decisions relating to Mdluli.

In what is her first substantive comment on Mdluli’s case, Phiyega has described as a “fuss” FUL’s concern about the dropping of the murder, kidnapping and assault charges against Mdluli.

These charges stemmed from the 1999 murder of Oupa Ramokgibe, who was gunned down while pointing out the scene of a previous attempt on his life to police.

At the time, Ramokgibe was married to Mdluli’s former lover and Mdluli was a senior police officer at the Vosloorus Police Station.

Last year, an inquest by the Boksburg Magistrates’ Court found insufficient evidence was presented to link Mdluli to Ramokgibe’s murder.

During the inquest, Ramokgibe’s family members testified about the “hell” they had been through in seeking justice for Ramokgibe’s death.

The inquest’s finding means no person has ever been held responsible.

In her affidavit, Phiyega said the “(inquest’s finding) to me is a lesson to everybody that jungle justice cannot serve well in a constitutional state, especially where people can be tried and convicted in a court of public opinion before they are given an opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law”.

Phiyega said FUL “has no business whatsoever in interfering in the employment relationship that exists between (Mdluli) and the SA Police Service”.

Kriegler spits fire

But in his replying affidavit, retired Constitutional Court Justice and FUL chairperson Johann Kriegler said it was a “serious concern that a national commissioner can characterise public alarm at charges of murder and associated criminality against a key police general as a ‘fuss’”.

Kriegler said the inquest’s finding was not binding on the NPA and the serious allegations relating to kidnapping, assault and intimidation, which surfaced during the inquest, required “intensive investigation”, which had never been conducted.

Kriegler describes Phiyega’s characterisation of the matter as a labour dispute over which she has sole jurisdiction as an “exercise in misdirection, which ignores the legitimate public interest in the matter”.

He further said: “This matter is a dispute between a government entity and the citizens to whom the government is accountable.”

Both the NPA and the police have argued that FUL’s case is based on hearsay, but Kriegler says this was the result of the police and the NPA’s “deliberate failure” to file records of their decisions related to Mdluli.

“I note the national commissioner has not seen fit to take the court into her confidence regarding disciplinary proceedings allegedly taken against Mdluli,” said Kriegler.

Police spokesperson Solomon Makgale said he couldn’t comment because of the pending court case and because Mdluli was still suspended

City Press established Ngcobo packed up his office almost a month ago and relocated from crime intelligence headquarters to security and protection services in Sunnyside.

He has not attended any recent management meetings, and informed Phiyega and police top management he would not return to Erasmuskloof.

He cited major discord within crime intelligence for why he left and claims he was continually undermined by pro-Mdluli factions.

Crime intelligence insiders this week described how the division was paralysed by the controversy surrounding Mdluli, and the suspended and charged former chief financial officer Major General Solly Lazarus.

The division’s crime-combating ability has reached an all-time low and very little surveillance or telephone interception is being conducted.

A few years ago, the division was working on 120 intelligence projects. This is now down to a little more than 10.

The division’s secret fund, allegedly looted by Mdluli, Lazarus and their cronies, is going largely unspent and agents are not being paid.

The fund has an annual budget of around R220?million, but the division spent less than half of it in the last financial year.

The unspent money had to be repaid to Treasury.

Mdluli and Lazarus were suspended in 2011 following allegations of fraud and corruption linked to the fund.

The suspensions were lifted briefly when they were reinstated a year ago.

While the NPA has refused to charge Mdluli, Lazarus and his co-accused, Colonel Heine Barnard, have been accused of theft, fraud and corruption of more than R1?million and are standing trial.

Although the proceedings are not public, City Press understands Lazarus blamed his legal predicament on Mdluli, who he said authorised and ordered all payments.

This prompted the hearing’s chairperson, Advocate Paul Pretorius, to ask why Mdluli was not standing trial with Lazarus.

Ngcobo didn’t answer his phone this week.

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