Mdluli’s startling comeback

2012-02-04 17:31

The stunning return from the cold this week of crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli is proof that he is protected “right at the top”.

City Press spoke to seven ­sources with knowledge of this week’s shock disciplinary actions against senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, who was pushing fraud charges against Mdluli. The only hurdle now standing between Mdluli and his return to a senior position in the South ­African Police Service is an internal police investigation, pushed by supporters of suspended police boss General Bheki Cele.

All City Press’s sources concurred that the real reason for action against Breytenbach by the National ­Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was her “unwavering” efforts to have Mdluli prosecuted for fraud.

In December, fraud charges against Mdluli relating to discounts he received on the purchase of a BMW were withdrawn on the instruction of Advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, the newly appointed head of the Special Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU).

City Press understands Breytenbach vehemently opposed charges being dropped and believed they were dropped ulterior reasons.

This week, charges of murder and defeating the ends of justice against Mdluli for the 1999 murder of Oupa Ramogibe in Vosloorus, East Rand, were also withdrawn ­after his lawyers made representations to South Gauteng prosecutions boss Andrew Chauke. This paves the way for Mdluli to return to the police force.

Police spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said an internal investigation against Mdluli would have to be completed before he could ­return. Until then, he will remain suspended.

But a source close to the fallout in the police said an internal probe would depend on the strength of Cele’s supporters within the force. Mdluli and Cele do not see ­eye to eye.

Meanwhile, the NPA stands firm that it is not taking action against Breytenbach for her role in the matter. Spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga declined to discuss ­details about this “internal matter”.

It says Breytenbach “abused” her powers in the criminal investigation of the multibillion-rand ­Sishen iron ore mining deal.

The mining rights were initially awarded to little known Imperial Crown Trading (ICT), whose beneficiaries include President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s partner, Gugu Mtshali, and Jagdish Parekh, who heads the Gupta ­family’s business empire.

But after a challenge was brought by Kumba Iron Ore, the award to ICT was dismissed by the North Gauteng High Court last year.

In a separate matter, Kumba and ICT laid criminal charges against each other for alleged fraud with the application for the mining rights through the mineral ­resources department.

Breytenbach was tasked with the investigations and at the end of last year, ICT’s legal team complained to the NPA about her alleged “bias” in favour of Kumba.

Three sources who have had ­access to ICT’s complaint against Breytenbach said it related to her being “rude” to police investigators in the case and to her alleged closeness to Kumba’s senior ­counsel, Mike Hellens.

Said a lawyer sympathetic to Breytenbach: “It’s stuff like she shared a bench with Mike ­(Hellens) in the Kimberley court or spoke to an IT expert, who is her witness, outside court. And (that) she was not only rude to the police; she is rude with everyone! It’s all nonsense.”

Breytenbach’s lawyer, Gerhard Wagenaar, confirmed he had ­written to the NPA to ask for more clarity on how Breytenbach “abused her powers”.

Supporters of Breytenbach ­believe the ICT complaint was a convenient “stick to hit her with” for insisting Mdluli be prosecuted.

The Hawks arrested Mdluli and his crime intelligence colleague, Colonel Heine Barnard, in September for allegedly defrauding Leo Haese BMW and Atlantis Nissan.

It was claimed Mdluli pretended that his BMW 730D belonged to the police in order for him to get a discount on a trade-in.

Mrwebi became Breytenbach’s boss at the end of October last year, when Zuma and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe appointed him as ­national head of the SCCU.

City Press understands one of the first things he did in his new position was to ask for the police docket against Mdluli.

Shortly afterwards, he instructed Breytenbach and Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi, who heads up prosecutions in the North Gauteng High Court, to withdraw the case against Mdluli.

During a bail application last year in his now-aborted murder case, Mdluli dropped a political bombshell when he released a 22-page “intelligence report” on an ­alleged plot by opponents of Zuma, led by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and referred to as the “Mvela Group”, to topple him at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.

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