Don’t allow Mzansi to become Thugsville

2014-08-19 06:45

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Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli (centre, in blue suit), the former head of crime intelligence, after his court appearance in Palm Ridge on charges of kidnapping, assault and intimidation. Picture: Cornel van Heerden

Take a good look at this image. The man in the centre wearing the flashy suit is Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, the former head of police intelligence who remains a senior police officer. He is every bit the thug he looks.

He appeared in court this week on a murder charge related to a 1999 case of a love rival. Why he had to appear with eight heavies is anyone’s guess.

He is, after all, a disgraced police officer who the highest court in the land has determined should face the charges he has evaded for 15 years. On top of that, serial revelations have shown how he allegedly looted crime intelligence funds to live the high life and buy political favours.

He allegedly put his cronies on the police service’s intelligence books, and took himself and his family on extended luxury holidays.

The men surrounding him in this picture might be some of them.

Don’t even start talking about the cars he enjoyed driving.

Mdluli also penned an intelligence report warning President Jacob Zuma he had political enemies (which politician doesn’t?); and for this, he is believed to enjoy political protection and impunity.

And from the swag, that smirk and the kit of this photograph, you know Mdluli also believes he has immunity.

Mdluli’s manoeuvres have been splashed in the media for years. I think people don’t even read these revelations any longer.

But we shouldn’t stop being interested because what this image symbolises is directly related to your and my level of security.

Police intelligence is compromised and is currently in a battle with small and struggling forces of good in the security agencies, as our stories revealed last week.

My colleague Jacques Pauw revealed the existence of a Special Operations Unit within the State Security Agency geared to enrichment and fighting political battles. It has allegedly done some of Mdluli’s dirty work for him.

If police intelligence does not work at an optimal level, there is no way our crime-fighting services can get a grip on increasingly sophisticated networks, gangs and systems. If you look at crime statistics, it’s as though the police have lost control and are unable to deal with organised crime.

The only reason Mdluli was in court last week was because another institution is on the ropes.

The embattled National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mxolisi Nxasana, reinstated Mdluli’s charges as his attack in a war raging at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

A functioning NPA with vital and talented prosecutors is the backbone of our criminal justice system. But the NPA is shattered and at war, just like the police’s crime intelligence unit.

Without a functioning NPA, the system is crumbling with ineffective prosecutions – translating to there often being no rigorous punishment for crime.

Read the Daily Sun to see how ordinary communities have lost faith in a systemic response to crime – not a day goes by without a graphic image of street justice revealed on its pages. People are simply killing suspected criminals; no questions asked.

This cannot be good for our stability and it’s a phenomenon that can be traced directly to the serial instability of the NPA.

We have had almost as many directors of public prosecutions as we’ve had Bafana coaches.

I hope you read last week’s story on the Special Operations Unit. It revealed how tragically our state security is compromised.

Read: Sex, Sars and rogue spies

The unit is allegedly in cahoots with cigarette smugglers, doing their dirty work and providing protection from detection and prosecution. One of their operatives is allegedly Glenn Agliotti, the convicted drug dealer who got former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi jailed.

There is no greater illustration that justice has lost her way: for Agliotti, it is business as usual, while Selebi is home on sick parole.

Once a state’s intelligence services are dysfunctional, stability of the nation and its fiscus is under threat. Significant parts of the economy can then be criminalised and run by syndicates. I think that much is already happening here, to our detriment.

Our story also revealed that a senior SA Revenue Service agent, Johan van Loggenberg, might have been stung by Belinda Walters, who is an alleged spy.

And as we all know, if the integrity of the revenue service is blown, we are in big trouble. This because its ability to effectively collect taxes thus far has held South Africa steady over the years.

If mafia networks and smugglers infiltrate intelligence (both state and police), the stable trajectory of public finance is threatened.

That process has now begun, as we revealed last week. As taxpayers, we should raise the red flag.

So don’t turn that page when you see yet another revelation about Mdluli or indeed episode umpteen in the drama that is the NPA.

The police, the courts, the intelligence services and now the revenue service are institutions under threat by criminal elements.

We should shout loudly and clearly that this is dangerous.

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