Bizarre Mdluli move

2012-05-10 00:00

CRIME intelligence boss Richard Mdluli was sidelined yesterday pending an investigation into claims he made against senior colleagues and not because of the allegations of corruption and nepotism against him.

This was the upshot of Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s announcement in parliament, which fell far short of calls for him to suspend Mdluli and added yet another “curiouser and curiouser” Alice in Wonderland dimension to the goings-on in the police service.

Last night acting national police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi told The Witness that crime intelligence would report to him, while Mdluli would report to Lieutenant-General Sehlahle Fannie Masemola, the deputy commissioner for operations. Masemola was the acting crime intelligence boss during Mdluli’s suspension.

Mkhwanazi was unable to say how long the investigation, to be headed by state law adviser Enver Daniels, would take.

The investigative process might take time and “the people need to be patient and we need to observe the process”, he said.

Also yesterday, Justice Jake Moloi’s board of inquiry into suspended national police commissioner Bheki Cele’s fitness to hold office said it had concluded its work and was getting ready to submit the report.

A source close to Cele said last night the developments might be an indication that the writing was on the wall for the suspended national commissioner.

Shifting Mdluli — pending the investigation — might well be an attempt to try and appease those in the ANC who would have questioned why Mdluli continued to be protected while Cele lost his job.

The ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial conference takes place this weekend.

A careful reading of Mthethwa’s statement to parliament shows that Mdluli was removed to allow Daniels the opportunity to investigate Mdluli’s claims that senior police officers were plotting against him.

Mdluli outlined these allegations in a strangely phrased letter that he addressed to President Jacob Zuma, Mthethwa himself, and Mkhwanazi in November last year. At the time he was still under suspension.

Sister newspaper City Press reported on Sunday that Mdluli suggested in the letter that he would “assist the president to succeed next year” if he was reinstated as crime intelligence boss.

Speaking about the allegations against Mdluli — who had faced charges of murder and fraud — Mthethwa said: “We want to say processes which are currently before our criminal justice system would have to be observed by all to their logical conclusions”.

He appeared to be referring to the judicial inquest into the death of Vosloorus resident Oupa Ramogibe in 1999, as well as an ongoing investigation by the Hawks into the mismanagement of a secret service account.

Mdluli was, with three others, previously accused of murdering Ramogibe, with whose wife he was romantically involved. But charges were controversially withdrawn in February.

The Hawks are separately investigating charges that Mdluli and other high-ranking crime intelligence officials looted a R200 million secret service account for their personal benefit.

The unit found that Mdluli employed at least seven family members in crime intelligence, kitted them out with luxury cars and rented houses he owned to his own division.

Mthethwa tried to assure Parliament that advocate Faith Radebe, the Inspector-General of Intelligence, was looking into the “financial management” of the crime intelligence division.

The minister then moved to discuss “unfortunate public accusations and counter-accusations within the management of SAPS”.

This, he said, was sparked by Mdluli’s letter to him, Zuma and Mkhwanazi in which he accused Hawks boss Anwa Dramat, Gauteng police chief Mzwandile Petros and police head of detectives, Godfrey Lebeya, of plotting against him.

“This letter seems to have political connotations and has caused tensions within the management of SAPS.

“It alludes to some conspiracy theory of some in the management ganging up against him.

“I have instituted a task team, led by the state law adviser, to investigate such allegations because they are so serious as to suggest the meddling of policing functions in politics,” Mthethwa said.

Mthethwa said he was “deliberately and purposefully” reiterating the “clarity of process” as there had been some “misrepresentation, false allegations and to a certain extent genuine concerns about the goings-on within SAPS”.

“We have resisted the temptation and we shall stick to our principles of respect for all legal processes of the land.”

Of the police managers accused by Mdluli, Dramat declined to comment last night, while Petros and Lebeya could not be reached at the time of going to press.

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