Former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli was acquitted on four convictions of intimidation in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.
At issue is a judgment by the Constitutional Court that found that sections of the Intimidation Act were unconstitutional, finding that it limited the right to freedom of expression.
In the judgment, which Justice Leona Theron handed down on October 22, the court found that Sections 1(1)(b) and 1(2) of the Intimidation Act 72 of 1982 limited freedom of expression and that Section 1(2) of the Act created a reverse onus.
This ruling "has a profound effect" on the four charges of intimidation that Mdluli was found guilty of on July 30, the State argued, as such a ruling has "drawn a line" through those convictions.
Advocate Zaais van Zyl, for the State, argued that Mdluli should be acquitted on four charges of intimidation.
Acting for Mdluli, advocate Ike Motloung agreed with Van Zyl, saying: "Once the Constitutional Court has spoken, that is it. The judgment goes retrospectively and applies to this case, as it has not yet been finalised. What the judgment says is that [Mdluli] was charged in terms of a law that doesn't exist."
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng pointed out that the law did indeed exist until it was found unconstitutional. "The constitutionality of the law has changed. That doesn't mean the law never existed."
Mokgoatlheng said he would write a proper judgment in due course. "The accused [Mdluli] is acquitted on the four convictions of intimidation."
Sentencing has been postponed to February 3.
The case against Mdluli and Mthembeni Mthunzi has been ongoing for four years.
Mdluli and Mthunzi were found guilty of charges relating to the 1999 kidnapping and assault of Oupa Ramogibe.
Ramogibe was married to Mdluli's former lover Tshidi Buthelezi. Mdluli had paid lobola for her.
Mokgoatlheng found Mdluli guilty of four counts of intimidation, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of common assault and two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
Mthunzi was found guilty of two counts of kidnapping, two counts of common assault and two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
They were both acquitted of the intimidation of Buthelezi's friend Alice Manana, and defeating the ends of justice.
Mdluli had a long-term relationship with Buthelezi, dating back to his school days. During her relationship with him, she met Ramogibe and they began a relationship. They eventually got married on July 22, 1998.
Between 1997 and 1999, Mdluli allegedly went to extreme lengths to track down Buthelezi and Ramogibe. Mdluli and Mthunzi allegedly kidnapped and assaulted Ramogibe.
He was shot dead in 1999.
No one was ever convicted of Ramogibe's murder. Mdluli was accused of sabotaging the investigation.