‘I will quit over Mdluli’

2012-04-01 06:48

South Africa’s acting police chief is threatening to quit after being ordered by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to lift the suspension of corruption-implicated crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

A “devastated” Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, the acting national commissioner, is waiting to attend a meeting with President Jacob Zuma, where he is expected to discuss vacating his job.

Sources close to this week’s dramatic reinstatement of Mdluli and Major General Solly Lazarus, the controversial head of finance at crime intelligence, have told City Press that Mkhwanazi was shocked at the level of political interference in the case.

“Nobody knows what will happen next. People are frightened. What will happen to those who investigated Mdluli?” said a senior police source.

Mkhwanazi was committed to cleaning up crime intelligence, which has been embroiled in a scandal over the abuse of a R200 million secret “slush fund”.

City Press can also reveal that:
» Mdluli was not only reinstated to his old job, but was given the Presidential Protection Unit and the Protection and Security Services Unit. These units control the protection of Zuma and his ministers;

» This in effect gives Mdluli access to and control over the movements of all members of Zuma’s Cabinet, including those who will oppose his candidacy at the ANC’s national conference in December; and

» A showdown looms in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) between prosecutors in charge of Mdluli’s case and senior NPA bosses, who again have refused to prosecute Mdluli.

Mkhwanazi declined to comment on whether he was told by Mthethwa to reinstate Mdluli and if he would stay on in the police.

City Press revealed last week that the Inspector General of Intelligence, Advocate Faith Radebe, had advised Mkhwanazi in a letter to reinstate charges of fraud and corruption against Mdluli.

This had massive aftershocks, all pointing to a concerted effort by senior politicians close to Zuma to protect Mdluli and get him back into the police.

Informed sources in the police, NPA and justice cluster told City Press:
» Shortly after writing to Mkhwanazi that criminal charges against Mdluli should be reinstated, Radebe was put under “massive pressure” by “senior ministers” to withdraw her letter;

» Radebe “was traumatised to the point of crying”;

» Mkhwanazi refused to hand back the letter, telling Radebe she had acted in accordance with the law and they had to do “the right thing”;

» On Tuesday, Mthethwa called Radebe and Mkhwanazi to a meeting at which he ordered Mkhwanazi to lift Mdluli’s suspension and told Radebe to withdraw her letter;

» Radebe, under tremendous political pressure, told Mthethwa she had requested Mkhwanazi to give back the letter after receiving a call from “number one” (presumably a reference to Zuma), but he refused; and

» Mkhwanazi told Mthethwa he would not lift Mdluli’s suspension and would rather resign than be forced to do so.

Mthethwa told Mkhwanazi that he didn’t appoint him – Zuma did – and that only the president could accept his resignation. Zuma was in India this week attending a Brics summit.

Mkhwanazi, under protest, proceeded to lift the suspensions of Mdluli and Lazarus, but insisted that his name should not be associated with the decision.

On Wednesday, a day after the meeting with Mthethwa, the police released a terse statement saying “a decision was taken to lift the suspension of Mdluli and Lazarus concurrently”. The statement did not say who took the decision.

Yesterday, Mthethwa’s spokesperson, Zweli Mnisi, denied the minister instructed Mkhwanazi to reinstate Mdluli and Lazarus, saying he didn’t suspend them in the first place and “police management”, led by Mkhwanazi, handled departmental processes.

He confirmed that Mthethwa met the “entire management of the police” on Tuesday to discuss “policing matters”.

Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, on Friday vehemently denied any involvement by the president in getting Mdluli back into the police and said Zuma never called Radebe.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga yesterday confirmed that Advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, head of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit, would not prosecute Mdluli for fraud, even though Radebe advised him to do so.

This could place Mrwebi on a collision course with advocates Sibongile Mzinyathi, director of public prosecutions for North Gauteng, and Glynnis Breytenbach, head of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit in North Gauteng, who apparently believed that they had a rock-solid case and that charges against Mdluli should be reinstated.

“Advocate Mrwebi has already made his decision on the matter and we indicated that he considered insufficiency of evidence that would sustain a conviction in conjunction with representations made by
Mdluli’s legal representatives,” Mhaga said.

Mrwebi again advised the police to refer the matter to Radebe’s office, even though she had already said she did not have the powers to investigate Mdluli’s alleged criminality.

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