Mdluli vs Cele: The battle lines are drawn

2012-02-11 20:09

A battle for control of the police force has broken out between two of the country’s top cops.

Documents in the possession of City Press reveal that suspended crime intelligence boss Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli believes General Bheki Cele is actively participating in a plot to “unseat” him.

Mdluli is tipped to become the next police chief if Cele, also on suspension, is ousted by a commission of inquiry into multimillion-rand police leasing deals.

Mdluli is believed to have President Jacob Zuma’s ear – he prepared a secret intelligence report last year that claimed a powerful group of ANC politicians, led by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, were plotting to unseat Zuma at the ANC’s Mangaung conference in December.

It has now emerged Mdluli believes Cele – who was also named as part of the “anti-Zuma” group in his plot report – is waging a campaign to oust him from the police.

The campaign, according to Mdluli, even has a name: Project “Libambe Lingashoni”, translated by Mdluli’s lawyer as “let us wage a relentless campaign to see to it that he does
not survive”.

Mdluli is on the brink of making a comeback after Cele suspended him in March last year following his arrest for murder. He is still on suspension, pending the finalisation of an internal police investigation.

Mdluli accuses Cele of an “abuse of power and authority”. Cele told City Press he was “legally illiterate” and was “certainly not going to comment” on Mdluli’s claims, made in lawyers’ letters.

In September Mdluli was also charged with corruption and fraud, but the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) controversially dropped both cases after it received representations from Mdluli’s legal team.

The representations, in the possession of City Press, show that Mdluli’s team used two main arguments to get off the hook: that he was a victim of a conspiracy by Cele, top police brass, reservist Paul O’Sullivan and the media; and that there was no evidence to link him to the murder case.

In the corruption matter, Mdluli presented no evidence to rebuff the substantial charges against him, but only relied on the conspiracy theory to get off the hook.

In both cases, he succeeded.

Supporters of top fraud prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach believe she is now being targeted by the NPA for insisting on pushing ahead with Mdluli’s corruption trial.

Breytenbach was served with a notice to suspend by the NPA last week. She has still not been
formally suspended and this week her lawyer warned the NPA that any action against her would be a malicious attempt to influence prosecutorial decisions.

In his representations, Mdluli’s lawyer, Ike Motloung, claims there is a “conspiracy between certain law enforcement agents and their cohorts to unseat our client”.

Then he goes for Cele. “There is an added significance to the above-stated campaign in the fact that the office of the National Commissioner SAPS could not wait to jump on to issuing our client with a notice of intention to suspend him almost immediately after his arrest and while still in custody.”

He hints that Cele was acting against Mdluli to please O’Sullivan.

Immediately after his appointment, the murder allegations against Mdluli were published by the Sowetan. “Certain elements” in the police were behind the story, Mdluli claims.

He claims a Commissioner Ntlemeza investigated alleged irregularities in crime intelligence and found there was a “clear plot” to prevent him from getting the job.

Cele told City Press he knew nothing about such a report. “Who asked for the investigation?”

Mdluli’s representation refers to an investigation done years ago into the murder for which he was charged. No evidence against him could be found.

Motloung lists four incidents where people were allegedly coerced to give false evidence against Mdluli and says there is in effect a single witness against him.

Motloung accuses Cele of being “among those” who instituted the murder charges against Mdluli. “As if that is not enough...he (Cele) sought to have him (Mdluli) charged for fraud and theft allegedly related to the purchase of vehicles for crime intelligence.”

Motloung points to the fact that the same Cape Town detectives investigated both cases.

In his representations on the fraud and corruption charges, Motloung claims it was a “continuation of the dirty tricks and manoeuvrings relating to the contestation and jostling for the position of head of crime intelligence.

What has triggered this particular case is the realisation the Joburg (murder) case is not sustainable against Mdluli,” Motloung wrote.

There is “sheer desperation on the part of some in the top brass of the police and their cohorts to get rid of our client by hook or crook, not only from his position in crime intelligence, but from the SAPS”.

Without giving examples, Mdluli accuses the Hawks investigating team of seeking to “fabricate and manipulate evidence” against him that would result in an unfair trial.

The NPA previously said the fraud and corruption charges against Mdluli were withdrawn because of a lack
of evidence.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Lindela Mashigo said the police was not privy to Mdluli’s representation. “No comment will be made on the matter, suffice to indicate that there is an internal process under way to deal with workplace issues pertaining to (Mdluli).”

O’Sullivan could not be reached for comment.

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