Judge pokes holes in defence's theory of conspiracy in Mdluli kidnapping, assault case

Richard Mdluli. (File: Cornel van Heerden, Netwerk24)
Richard Mdluli. (File: Cornel van Heerden, Netwerk24)

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng, who is delivering judgment in the kidnapping and assault case of former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and co-accused Mthembeni Mthunzi, has questioned how the family of slain Oupa Ramogibe could have foreseen in 1999 that Mdluli would be appointed as head of crimes intelligence in 2009.

Ramogibe was married to Mdluli's former lover Tshidi Buthelezi. He was shot dead in 1999.

The Ramogibe family, who testified before the court, have been accused by the defence of being roped into a conspiracy to falsely implicate Mdluli.

Mokgoatlheng is currently delivering his lengthy verdict in the Gauteng hHgh Court in Johannesburg. 

Mokgoatlheng said the Ramogibe family had made statements in the matter which were similar in tone and context to the ones they had made in 1999. 

READ: Richard Mdluli must have been humiliated by his partner's affair - Gauteng judge

Mdluli was the station commander in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, at the time. His co-accused, Mthunzi, was a detective there.

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

In dealing with the count of intimidation opened against Mdluli by his ex-lover's husband, Mokgoatlheng did not dispute evidence by Lerato Seballo, who was Ramogibe’s girlfriend in 1997/8. 

Seballo previously testified that she had heard Mdluli threaten to kill Ramogibe on several occasions if he did not leave Buthelezi. 

'The complexity of the facts in this case are non-existent'

"How is it possible that Sophia Ramogibe (Oupa's mother) and Lerato Seballo can make statements which rhyme with statements they made in Vosloorus in 1999?" Mokgoatlheng asked. 

"The complexity of the facts in this case are non-existent, I can tell you that."

He said Seballo had faced a gruelling interrogation by Mdluli's lawyers, but she had never changed her evidence. 

"The core details of this lady remains intact," Mokgoatlheng said.

He said it was impossible that the family members could have "prophesied" in 1999 that Mdluli would be appointed as head of intelligence. 

READ: Former police officer asked to write affidavit to implicate Mdluli in murder, court told

Mokgoatlheng also touched on the statement made by Buthelezi's friend, Alice Manana. 

According to Manana's evidence, she was driven to the police station and assulted by the accused for a period of 30-35 miniutes. 

Mdluli and Mthunzi denied the allegations. 

"I never beat Alice. Police even struggled to get a statement from her. They only got it after they went to her house more than three times," said Mdluli at the time. 

'Hold up the sun so it doesn't set'

However, Mokgoatlheng said he was also taking into account the assertion from Mdluli's lawyer Ike Motloung that all the witnesses in the case were related. 

Motloung also said that Manana and the other witnesses had been placed under witness protection.

He had said that all the evidence tendered was fabricated, because there had been a plot and conspiracy perpetrated on his client involving senior police officers, said Mokgoatlheng during his ruling. 

The judge also said that Motloung had accused the prosecution team of being part of the conspiracy.

Mdluli had previously testified that witnesses were coached to give false testimony against him. 

Mdluli said a project called "Ulibambe Lingashoni", a Zulu saying whose literal translation is a threat to "hold up the sun so it doesn't set". 

The saying is a declaration of hostilities, and Mdluli said the operation was intended to "falsely incriminate him and pull him down".

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