Mdluli Inc in top gear

2012-04-21 16:28

R5 million.

That’s how much it cost the embattled crime intelligence unit of the police to employ family members of unit head Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli and supply them with luxury vehicles.

Seven of Mdluli’s family members were registered as secret agents in crime intelligence less than a year after his appointment to the job in 2009.

The cars are part of a fleet of luxury vehicles purchased for more than R47 million over the past five years by a crime intelligence front company, according to documents in the possession of City Press.

The documents include affidavits by two senior Hawks investigators – Colonel Kobus Roelofse and Lieutenant Colonel Piet Viljoen – who are probing Mdluli and the crime intelligence secret service account.

Acting police boss Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi hinted in Parliament this week that the Hawks’ probe into the “looting” of a crime intelligence “slush fund” may not necessarily be over.

He said the safety of Hawks investigators was looked after by the police and he was considering instituting disciplinary steps against police officers mentioned in the Hawks’ statements.

The affidavits describe how Mdluli had the use of seven crime intelligence vehicles – an Audi, three Mercedes-Benzes, a BMW, a Jeep and a Lexus.

Mdluli didn’t like the Jeep, so crime intelligence bought him a Lexus. Some of these cars were illegally registered in the name of his wife, who got married to Mdluli last year, the affidavits claim.

The investigators also charge that Mdluli’s seven family members, who are secret agents, do little at crime intelligence and in the 18 months since their appointment in 2010 they had cost the state more than R5 million in salaries and other expenses.

The affidavits also detail how the state was allegedly defrauded by tens of thousands of rands when Mdluli’s 7-Series BMW was traded in for a 5-Series BMW. There was a shortfall of R90 526 on the trade-in.

Crime intelligence then purchased two new BMWs, and used their discount and “trading assistance” to settle Mdluli’s shortfall.

Roelofse says in his affidavit that Mdluli “fraudulently” benefited from this deal because the money was intended for the state and was not for his personal use.

The BMW deal was at the heart of the original fraud charge against Mdluli, which was withdrawn on instruction of Advocate Lawrence Mrwebi in December.

Mrwebi is head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit.

Mdluli was controversially reinstated to his position last month after interference by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who also benefited from the secret fund.

Mkhwanazi caused a stir on Thursday when he told Parliament “powers beyond us” instructed him not to investigate certain cases, but to refer them to the Inspector General of Intelligence – a clear reference to the Mdluli case.

Mkhwanazi refused to let Mdluli answer any questions.

The Hawks affidavits accuse Major General Solly Lazarus, head of the secret fund, of furthering his “own agendas within (crime intelligence) and the broader police structure by handing senior personnel luxury state vehicles”.

Lazarus is a close confidant of Mdluli. He oversaw the appointment of seven members of his family as well as seven of convicted drug dealer Panganathan “Timmy” Marimuthu’s family, who allegedly pocketed R300 000 a month for being a “contact person” and by renting his properties as safe houses to crime intelligence.

Marimuthu has denied any wrongdoing and claims he is not an employee of crime intelligence.

The Hawks further claim Lazarus kept a pool of vehicles – a Mercedes Viano, a Volkswagen Caravelle, a Nissan Pathfinder and a Nissan Kingcab – for the exclusive use of crime intelligence members close to him. At least two of Lazarus’ family members were appointed as lieutenant colonels in the police. A nephew of Lazarus became a captain.

A senior crime intelligence officer told the Hawks that Lazarus gave him an envelope with R50 000 cash in it, which he said was a “loan” secured on Mdluli’s behalf.

Lazarus allegedly told the officer the money was for Mdluli and his wife to go to China, where his daughter is studying.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said that he was unable to comment on issues relating to crime intelligence, but that most of the issues raised “are likely to end up in a court of law”.

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