‘Mdluli case signals danger’

2012-05-08 00:00

THE Mdluli debacle is the biggest threat to the criminal justice system in years.

Gareth Newham, head of the crime and justice programme of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said that not since former president Thabo Mbeki axed advocate Vusi Pikoli as head of the NPA had there been a graver crisis.

“Mbeki interfered directly in the NPA to protect a crooked police commissioner. Here we have allegations that Zuma is doing exactly the same thing.”

Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, head of the police’s crime intelligence unit, wrote to Zuma at the end of last year asking that charges against him be dropped.

In exchange he offered to help ensure a second term for Zuma as ANC leader, according to a report in City Press.

Soon afterwards all charges against Mdluli were dropped.

“What is worrying is that the NPA is supposed to be independent, given the critical role it fulfils. As soon as we have a situation where prosecutors take decisions based on any considerations other than evidence and legal facts we are in an extremely dangerous situation where the credibility of the NPA is undermined.”

Newham said he believed Mdluli’s letter to Zuma could not be interpreted in any other way than that he had offered to misuse state resources to help Zuma ensure another term as president.

Newham said it was the same strategy previously used by Mbeki.

“Danger lights are flashing. The independence of the NPA is under threat and state resources are being misused for political purposes.

“People within the ANC are afraid of standing up and saying this is not right. It is exactly the same fear that people in the ANC had under Mbeki, and that is why they eventually recalled him when they got the chance.

“Hopefully those within the ANC who believe in South Africa will use the interference, as happened previously, as an opportunity to get rid of Zuma.”

Newham said Zuma was deliberately not using his power to appoint the best possible people to positions of power.

“Instead of people we can be proud of, he is appointing people with question marks over their heads to critical positions of power. This is leading to a fundamental collapse of trust among people in institutions like the NPA.”

The same was happening in the police, he said.

“The morale of people within the police is at a low point. People are losing faith in the police and other important institutions.”

Newham said Zuma could no longer afford to protect Mdluli.

“The investigation against him must be resumed. The investigators must be protected and Mdluli must be suspended until the investigation has been completed and his innocence proved.”

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