Mdluli was 'protected from being prosecuted', Mokgoro inquiry hears

A senior state advocate has told the Mokgoro inquiry that he was "worried" that former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli was being "protected" when charges against him were withdrawn in 2011. 

Advocate Jan Ferreira, SC, told inquiry chair retired Constitutional Court Judge Yvonne Mokgoro that had charges against Mdluli not been dropped, the former top cop would have "faced justice already".

The Mokgoro inquiry is looking into the fitness to hold office of suspended deputy prosecution boss Nomgcobo Jiba as well as that of special director of public prosecutions Lawrence Mrwebi.

Mdluli was facing a number of charges, including those related to defrauding a secret slush fund. However, the charges were withdrawn following Mrwebi's instructions.  

During his testimony, Ferreira told the inquiry about a memorandum which he co-authored with advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, saying that the concerns and opinions expressed in the memorandum were "sincere and seriously held". 

"[Advocate] Breytenbach and I believed that there was a prima facie case against Mdluli and were concerned that he was being protected from being prosecuted," Ferreira testified.

READ: Mdluli noose tightens around Mrwebi's neck

Ferreira indicated in his affidavit that as far as he knew, what was stated in the memorandum had not been challenged.

"He is the most senior person (Mdluli), the prosecutor was ready to set a date and go on trial and [the charges were] withdrawn.

"The reason for withdrawal made absolutely no sense," Ferreira said. 

However, Mrwebi's lawyer, advocate Ally Ramawele, SC, hit back during cross-examination, accusing Ferreira of being "biased", adding that Mrwebi was being accused of acting "maliciously" in dropping the charges.

"There was no ulterior motive...there was a prima facie case. You are biased and seriously prejudiced in the handling of this particular matter," Ramawele said.

Ramawele said Ferreira's evidence was suggesting that his client "colluded" with Jiba in order to protect Mdluli.

But Ferreira said Mrwebi did not have the right to interfere with the prosecution. 

In his affidavit, Ferreira also states that: "It must also be borne in mind that contrary to what is indicated in [advocate] Jiba's affidavit, the withdrawal by [advocate] Mrwebi was not as a result of any conclusion that he reached that there was no prima facie case against Mdluli, but because he mistakenly believed that the main issue was that the police did not have a mandate in this matter and that it was a domain of the IGI (Inspector General of Intelligence) to deal with." 

However, Ramawele said Ferreira created the "impression" that Mrwebi did not consider the merits of the case against Mdluli, but instead only considered the procedural aspects relating to the case. 

ALSO READ: DECLINE TO PROSECUTE: Mokgoro inquiry hears of unofficial Jiba decision

"I don't know what he considered...there was no real consideration of the merits of the case," Ferreira replied. 

In his affidavit which is before the inquiry, Ferreira also said he had limited involvement in the Mdluli matter after April 2012 as he was removed as a prosecutor. 

He also added that he was aware that serious new possible offenses were discovered after December 2011. 

News24 previously reported that Mdluli was officially suspended on May 8, 2011, by then national police commissioner Bheki Cele. 

He was further charged with fraud relating to the unlawful appointments of family members as paid police officers in Crime Intelligence.

He was also accused of allegedly misusing money from the police's slush fund to purchase luxury vehicles for his family members.

The charges were provisionally withdrawn and Mdluli was reinstated. But Freedom under Law brought an application before the courts and he was suspended again in 2012.

In an unrelated case, Mdluli is currently on trial for the 1999 kidnapping and assault of Oupa Ramogibe. 

The inquiry continues on Friday.    

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