‘I did not appoint Mdluli’

2011-04-02 18:23

South Africa’s former top cop has blown the whistle on the appointment of police spy boss, General Richard Mdluli,
calling the process “completely unusual” and “not regular”.

Mdluli was arrested for murder on ­Friday and is currently behind bars. He will apply for bail on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with City Press, former acting national police commissioner Tim Williams hit out at Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and three other ministers who interviewed Mdluli.

Cabinet approved Mdluli’s appointment in July 2009.

Williams said at the time he regarded Mdluli’s appointment as politically ­motivated, describing it as “completely unusual” and “not ­regular”.

Mdluli handed himself over to police on Thursday after an arrest warrant was issued for him in connection with a ­murder committed 12 years ago.

Mdluli is accused of ordering a hit on his lover’s husband, Oupa Ramogibe.

Three other police officers, including a 52-year-old lieutenant-colonel ­attached to crime intelligence, have also been arrested in connection with the crime and the alleged cover-up that ­followed it.

It has now emerged that Mdluli was promoted from deputy head of Gauteng police in 2009 after a panel of four ­government ministers, led by ­Mthethwa, allegedly hijacked the ­appointment process.

The three other members of the panel, according to Williams, were:
»? Siyabonga Cwele, the minister of state security;
»?Malusi Gigaba, the former deputy minister of home affairs and now ­minister of public enterprises; and
»?Susan Shabangu, former deputy minister of safety and security, and now minister of mineral resources.

According to Williams, who retired from the police in 2009, it was ­“unknown” for a ministerial panel to usurp the appointment processes.

Williams said: “The normal process would involve the commissioner, deputy national commissioners and the deputy minister.”

Despite this, according to Williams, he was “instructed” by Mthethwa that a “special” ministerial panel would interview Mdluli and make a recommendation.

“At the time, there were a lot of ­arguments about this between myself and the minister (Mthethwa). I was ­completely opposed to it,” said Williams.

“They couldn’t give me a reason why there was such a special panel to appoint an officer. I asked for reasons why he was appointed differently and they wouldn’t give me any reasons.”

Williams expressed concern that “not one public servant was on the panel”.

Asked if Mdluli’s appointment had been politically motivated, Williams said: “I regarded it as such at the time. He was appointed by the minister.”

Johan Burger, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies and a former police officer with 36 years’ experience, said that if Mdluli’s appointment had been made, as alleged by Williams, “it was a clear case of political interference and a political appointment in which the normal procedures of the ­police were completely ignored.

“If a panel of ministers was involved it would be an exception to the rule. It is unacceptable. It sends only one ­message: that politicians want to ensure that a person who is politically ­acceptable to them is appointed.

“Then it would seem the head of crime intelligence was appointed not for policing purposes, but for other purposes,” said Burger.

Mthethwa’s spokesperson, Zweli ­Mnisi, on Friday confirmed that a panel of four ministers had made the recommendation, but claimed “this was not an unusual process”. The spokespersons of the three other ministers all referred City Press to Mnisi.

He said the Police Act did not prohibit a panel of ministers from being directly involved in the appointment process.

In Mdluli’s case, Mnisi said it was “done transparently and above board, and there was no haphazard process of arriving at a decision hastily.

“Irrespective of the composition of the panel, in the end Cabinet has the final say in terms of the appointment”.

Mnisi denied that Mdluli’s appointment was politically motivated, saying he was “solely appointed based on his capabilities to head crime intelligence and met all the requirements”.

Mnisi said the panel was not aware of the “impending implication of the murder case” involving Mdluli. Williams said he also doubted that the ministers were aware of the murder allegations at the time of the appointment.

He further dismissed suggestions by police close to Mdluli that his arrest was linked to a purge of officers loyal to ­corrupt former police boss Jackie Selebi.

“It is rubbish. When he was appointed, Jackie Selebi had left and I was acting,” said Williams.

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