'Nothing done' about intimidation case against Mdluli, court hears

2015-06-01 18:42
Richard Mdluli (Ahmed Areff, News24)

Richard Mdluli (Ahmed Areff, News24)

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Johannesburg – An intimidation case was opened against former police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli by his ex-lover's husband, but nothing was done about it, the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Monday.

Lerato Seballo, who was Oupa Ramogibe’s girlfriend in 1997/8, testified that she had heard Mdluli threaten to kill Ramogibe on several occasions if he did not leave Tshidi Buthelezi, Mdluli's former lover.

"Oupa had opened a case at the Vosloorus police station for intimidation, but nothing was done," she testified via a court translator during cross-examination.

Ike Motloung, for Mdluli, asked her why she did not open a case herself.

"It did not occur to me... After he opened the case, I saw no need to."

Mdluli was the station commander in Vosloorus, on the East Rand, at the time. His co-accused, Mthembeni Mthunzi, was a detective there.

Both have pleaded not guilty to charges of intimidation, kidnapping, assault, and assault with intention to do grievous bodily harm.

Mthunzi faces only seven of the 12 charges. The other charges relate to incidents involving Seballo. Mdluli also faces a charge of defeating or obstructing the cause of justice.

Mdluli came knocking at the door

According to the charge sheet, Mdluli secreted "police dockets in respect of the attempted murder of Alice Manana and the kidnapping of Tefo Abel Oupa Ramogibe to ensure no criminal investigations and/or criminal prosecutions would be instituted against him in that regard".

Seballo testified earlier that she met Mdluli for the first time in 1997 when he came to her house.  

"He knocked on the door, and I asked who was it. He kept on knocking until I opened the door. He was outside and was in the company of a gentleman who was much younger than him."

She said he introduced himself as a police officer. He introduced the other man as Buthelezi's younger brother. Seballo did not know who Buthelezi was at the time.

"They asked where Oupa was. I said he is not here. He explained that the reason he was looking for Oupa was because Oupa is in a relationship with his girlfriend," Seballo said, while squeezing her hands and occasionally glancing at Mdluli.

'If he finds Oupa he will kill him'

Mdluli, in a tan suit and green shirt and tie, stared ahead from the dock, with Mthunzi seated beside him.

"He then went on to say that if Oupa wanted to stay with her he must pay what he [Mdluli] paid for her school fees, about R12 000, as well as his lobola for Tshidi. He said that if he finds Oupa he will kill him," Seballo said.

Mdluli visited her again later that year.

"He said he was in the company of Abel [Ramogibe]. I came out and went to them, and they were all in a vehicle with Oupa. Another policeman was with [them]. I then requested that we go to Oupa's home and we can go see Oupa's parents."

She said she got into the car and they picked up Buthelezi's father before going to the home of Maletsatsi Sophia Ramogibe and Jostinah Matohlang Ramogibe.

"When we got to Oupa's home, we sat in the dining room. I then explained to them the whole story.

"I was still young, [afterwards] I left the elders to continue with the discussion. Later, they were still talking when I heard Mdluli saying that if Oupa does not end the relationship, someday they will go out in Vosloorus, picking up Oupa's body pieces. He was talking to Oupa's parents in Oupa's presence."

After the meeting, Mdluli took her home.

Mdluli visits again

"The following year, Mdluli came once again and visited, and said Oupa and Tshidi are married. It was the September 2 1998. He brought with him a copy of the marriage certificate."

When asked by prosecutor Zaais van Zyl if she knew the date on the certificate, she replied: "I didn't get to read the date because of the state I was in. I was heartbroken."

He again threatened to kill Ramogibe, she said. She walked to Ramogibe's parents’ home. "I informed his mother that Mdluli said that if he finds him, he will kill him."

She said that several days later Mdluli came with Ramogibe's mother and took both of them to the Vosloorus police station.

"Mr Mdluli said he found Oupa. He told me he found him in Orange Farm. He said Oupa is still alive."

Sabello said he showed Ramogibe to them, and then took him to a room, and discussed something with him.

"He told me and Oupa's mother that he wanted him to divorce Tshidi."

Sabello later moved out of Vosloorus and had no contact with Ramogibe.

"Sometime after I heard that Oupa was staying with Tshidi at his sister's place."

Ramogibe was killed in 1999.

ICD approached over Oupa investigation

"A while afterwards I approached the ICD [Independent Complaints Directorate]. This was prompted by me seeing there was no progress in the investigation into Oupa's death."

Motloung later asked Seballo what she had told Ramogibe's mother after Mdluli visited her with the marriage certificate.

"If anybody was to come and tell the court that after you discovered Oupa and Tshidi were married, you went and told the mother of Oupa: 'Please go buy a coffin and vegetables because your son is going to die', is that not true?" he asked.

"I did not say that," Seballo replied.  

Last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a ruling by the High Court in Pretoria, which reinstated fraud and corruption charges against Mdluli, following an order to this effect sought by Freedom Under Law.

Mdluli appeared on October 7, when the matter was postponed so the defence could be provided with documents.

He was suspended amid allegations of fraud and corruption, and charges relating to Ramogibe's murder.

The fraud and corruption charges were withdrawn on December 14 2011, and in March 2012, Mdluli was reinstated as head of police crime intelligence.

A month later, the National Prosecuting Authority provisionally withdrew the murder charges, pending an inquest. In May that year, then police minister Nathi Mthethwa announced that Mdluli would be transferred from crime intelligence to the office of the deputy national police commissioner for operations.

Later, he was suspended for a second time when allegations emerged from the inquest into Ramogibe's murder. In November 2012, the inquest cleared him of any involvement in the murder.

'Extreme lengths' 

According to the charge sheet presented at a hearing in August, Mdluli went to extreme lengths between 1997 and 1999 to find out where Buthelezi and Ramogibe were hiding.

Mdluli had a long-term relationship with Buthelezi from school days and claimed she was his wife.

However, during her relationship with Mdluli, Buthelezi met Ramogibe and they began a relationship. They married on July 22 1998.

The provisional trial date for a separate case of fraud against Mdluli and Colonel Heine Barnard at the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court was set for August 17 to 19.

The two face charges of money laundering, fraud and corruption related to misuse of police funds. This was when Mdluli was head of the police crime intelligence unit. He allegedly appointed relatives and bought two luxury cars. Barnard worked in the same unit.

Read more on:    saps  |  richard mdluli  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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