'I have no reason to favour Mdluli' - Lawrence Mrwebi testifies

2019-02-20 15:41
Suspended special director of public prosecutions, advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, will have the opportunity to respond to his detractors and accusers as he takes the stand today. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Suspended special director of public prosecutions, advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, will have the opportunity to respond to his detractors and accusers as he takes the stand today. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Suspended special director of public prosecutions, Lawrence Mrwebi, told the Mokgoro Inquiry that he never met former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and had no reason to favour him. 

Mrwebi took the stand for the first time on Wednesday to respond to his detractors and accusers.

"I have no reason to favour Mdluli. Bring the evidence. Let's apply the law," Mrwebi told the inquiry, which is headed by retired justice of the Constitutional Court, Yvonne Mokgoro.

Mdluli faced charges of fraud, theft and corruption for allegedly pillaging the Crime Intelligence slush fund.

"I have no reason to favour anybody when I take a decision. The fact that the person might be hated does not influence my decision," he said.

He told the inquiry that he knew Mdluli from reading about him in newspapers.

He said when he took his decision to withdraw the charges, he received representations from Mdluli's lawyers. He then asked the prosecutors for a report and the docket.

READ: Mokgoro inquiry: Mzinyathi forced to withdraw charges against Mdluli

"I was not being respected because I had not received the report. I had to write a reminder that I requested to receive the report.

"The response strangely did not address the matter. The response rather said: 'We cannot entertain this,' but not telling me why. It was not helpful to me. I requested it again. Thereafter, it was provided."

He said one of the "immediate things" he noticed when reading through the docket was that transactions relating to the purchase of Mdluli's BMW were not done by him.  

"There was no evidence linking Mdluli directly to the transactions and no evidence to say Mdluli knew about transactions," he said.

"Mr Mdluli is not implicated in the fraud case. This R90 000 we are talking about in terms of the shortfall, he was going to pay - all these transactions were done by his co-accused."

He said he went to see North Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions Sibongile Mzinyathi before he took his decision in the Mdluli matter.

"In my mind, I consulted him," he said.

Mrwebi also testified about a meeting on December 9, 2011 which took place in his office in Pretoria. Present at the meeting was advocate Glynnis Breytenbach and Mzinyathi. He said he was told that they did not agree with his decision to withdraw the charges.

"My initial view was that we should be sensitive and know that we are dealing with a security environment. It's not as easy as whether the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act) was followed," he said.

ALSO READ: Mokgoro inquiry: How charges were dropped against Mdluli

Mrwebi said Breytenbach asked for a forensic report which he thought was a "good idea".

He said they concluded that the matter should be provisionally withdrawn. Mrwebi also added that, just because the matter was withdrawn, it did not mean investigations had to stop. 

Mrwebi told the inquiry that until now, Mdluli has not been prosecuted on those corruption charges.

During her testimony before the inquiry, Breytenbach testified that in November 2011, Mdluli's attorneys delivered handwritten representations directly to Mrwebi, even though he was not yet head of the Special Commercial Crimes Unit.

She also believed that the representations were handed to Mrwebi so that he would deal with the withdrawal of the matter. According to Breytenbach, representations should have been made to her or Mzinyathi.

She said that when she tried to convince him not to withdraw charges against Mdluli, he said: "Colleagues, I presume you are here to test my powers."

President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended Mrwebi and deputy prosecutions boss Nomgcobo Jiba in October 2018, pending the outcome of the inquiry.

He is expected to receive the inquiry report on March 9.

Read more on:    richard mdluli  |  lawrence mrwebi
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