Max du Preez

Mdluli’s secret files must contain a lot of dirt

2015-03-24 07:08

Max du Preez

Who and what is this shadowy figure called Richard Mdluli really? What hold does he have over President Jacob Zuma and his inner circle of power?

If we can get answers to these questions, we would be able to stop the chaos in the criminal justice system of the last few years and know a lot more about Zuma’s strategies to stay out of jail and in power.

Understanding Mdluli will lead to an understanding of how Zuma has become so untouchable.

General Mdluli, the suspended head of crime intelligence, has been playing a role behind the scenes to counter Zuma opponents since 2007.

Some of Mdluli’s former colleagues call him Zuma’s Rottweiler and one of the most powerful men in the country.

His name is again being mentioned regarding the suspension of the head of the Independent Police Investigations Directorate, Robert McBride.  

Not a struggle comrade

Mdluli’s agents apparently went to the office of the suspended head of the Hawks in Gauteng, General Shadrack Sibiyia, to retrieve a piece of equipment that transmits encrypted faxes that was used by Mdluli. McBride pre-empted them because Mdluli has no right to have it. McBride is now being accused of an unlawful action.

Mdluli was never a struggle comrade. He was an officer in the feared security police of the apartheid era stationed on the East Rand. When he was appointed as head of crime intelligence in 2009, the then acting police commissioner, Tim Williams, objected and called it a political appointment.

There is enough circumstantial evidence to suspect that the shrewd Mdluli’s meteoric rise in the post-liberation police force was mainly due to his strategy of gathering sensitive information about the personal and financial affairs of senior figures in the government, the ANC, the police and intelligence services and in the civil service. Having dirt on someone makes him your pawn. There is ample evidence that Mdluli is a much-feared man.

Among Mdluli’s many “victims” are Gerrie Nel, the celebrity prosecutor and former senior Scorpions official whom Mdluli had arrested by an armed force on trumped-up charges in 2008; advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, the prosecutor who had investigated Mdluli and was then suspended and charged by Mdluli’s henchmen in the National Prosecuting Authority; and Anwa Dramat, suspended head of the Hawks whom Mdluli had accused of conspiring against Zuma.

The Mdluli hand is also visible in the recent suspensions of McBride and Sibiya.

Mdluli clearly used his term as head of crime intelligence to spy on and counter Zuma opponents. He tapped many prominent people’s phones, intercepted e-mails and used ministers’ bodyguards to spy on them. He is suspected to be behind the “spy tapes” that were used as an excuse to withdraw the more than seven hundred criminal charges against Zuma.

Julius Malema, while he was still in the ANC, once remarked that when a cabinet minister’s phone rang, he first had to say hello to Mdluli.

An example is the report given to Zuma by the Mdluli group alleging that cabinet ministers Tokyo Sexwale and Fikile Mbalula and police commissioner Bheki Cele had had a secret meeting at Estcourt in 2011 where they conspired against Zuma.

The lesson is: if Mdluli targets you, your career options are suddenly very limited.

Mdluli was arrested in 2011 because of his alleged involvement with the murder of his lover’s husband and was also charged with abusing his unit’s secret funds. But his sidekicks in the National Prosecting Authority withdrew the charges and instead suspended Glynnis Breytenbach.

Mdluli knows too much

Retired Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob made damning findings against these Mdluli allies, former acting prosecutions head Nomgcobo Jiba and specialised commercial crimes unit head Lawrence Mrwebi, after an enquiry into the NPA. His report echoed previous criticism of Jiba and Mrwebi’s role in the decision to withdraw criminal charges against Mdluli. Both are still in their posts.

The Supreme Court of Appeal recently ordered that those charges be reinstated. The case comes before court next week.

But I doubt whether it would mean the end of Mdluli. He simply knows too much and his tentacles reach too far.
Until his power and hold over key figures are exposed and neutralised, Mdluli will keep on undermining our criminal justice system and other institutions of our democracy.

The dirt in Richard Mdluli’s secret files must be pretty strong stuff.

- Follow Max on Twitter.

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Read more on:    npa  |  jacob zuma  |  bheki cele  |  richard mdluli  |  gerrie nel  |  anwa dramat  |  robert mcbride

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