1. Who is Richard Mdluli?
- Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli is a career policeman. He joined the police, then known as the South African Police Force (SAPF) in 1979.
- During Apartheid Mdluli was part of the SAPF’s Special Branch, the unit responsible for arresting, interrogating, torturing and murdering anti-Apartheid activists.
- He moved his way through the ranks of the SAPF and then the South African Police Service (SAPS).
- He commanded the Vosloorus (in Boksburg) police station’s detective branch between 1997 and 1999 and then served as Deputy Head of the Gauteng police.
- He was appointed to the very senior position of head of SAPS Crime Intelligence Unit in 2009.
- The Acting SAPS Commissioner at the time of Mdluli’s appointment was Tim Williams who stated that Mdluli’s appointment was irregular and did not follow standard procedure.
2. What is Crime Intelligence?
- Crime Intelligence is the unit within SAPS that is responsible for among other things, secret gathering of information on criminal activity through surveillance, the bugging of phones and spying.
- Because the unit needs to operate in a secretive manner – it employs informers who have their identities kept anonymous – it is open to abuse.
- In March 2011 the Crime Intelligence Unit, under Mdluli’s leadership, conducted an illegal and unsanctioned raid on the office of the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. This was condemned by then National Police Commissioner Cele and was seen as an attempt to intimidate the Public Protector and was an abuse of power.
- In March 2012 the government decided that the VIP (Very Important Person) Protection Unit would fall under and be handled by the Crime Intelligence Unit. The VIP Protection Unit is responsible for the transportation and safekeeping of the president, deputy president, cabinet ministers and MECs.
- This decision to transfer the VIP Protection Unit means that members of Crime Intelligence have direct knowledge of who politicians meet with and where they go.
- The decision to move the VIP Protection Unit to Crime Intelligence was seen by many as an attempt by President Jacob Zuma to place the Unit in the hands of someone who supports him. Mdluli has stated that he is pro-Zuma. There is the fear that such a situation is open to abuse and can be used to spy on political rivals, especially in the run up to the ANC elective conference in Mangaug.
3. Why has Richard Mdluli been in the news?
- In March 2011 Mdluli was suspended from his position in SAPS following charges of intimidation, three counts of kidnapping, two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder relating to the 1999 murder of Oupa Abel Ramogibe – Mdluli’s ex-girlfriend’s husband.
- Mdluli faced an additional charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice. The State argued that charges did exist in 1999, but that because Mdluli was in charge of the unit investigating the matter, he had exercised his influence to make it disappear. Dockets relating to the case were found in his safe in a search conducted in 2011.
- In September 2011 Mdluli faced further charges of fraud and corruption in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.
- During the fraud and corruption case, and in reports that were made public in the following months, it emerged that Mdluli has been accused of, amongst other things:
- Employing more than 20 of his friends and family as intelligence operatives (please see the attached graphic at the end of the text, kindly provided for use from Graphics24 and first appearing in City Pressin April 2012, further illustrating Mdluli’s nepotism);
- Misusing police funding from the unit’s Secret Services account, also known as a ‘slush fund’, to purchase luxury cars for family members;
- Misusing police funding from the unit’s Secret Services account to pay for flights for himself and family members;
- Using houses rented by Crime Intelligence as a personal residence for himself and his family instead of for the stated purpose of strategic police meetings.
- Such abuses cost the State millions of rand and undermined the functioning of the Crime Intelligence unit.
- Many of these matters came to light as a result of the Hankel Report issued in November 2011 and written by senior policemen Majors General Chris de Kock and Mark Hankel following extensive investigations. Further evidence has since been placed in the public domain strengthening these allegations and bringing new ones to light.
- Despite damning allegations against Mdluli, in December 2011 the murder and related charges were provisionally withdrawn and in March 2012 the fraud and corruption charges were dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). This was despite independent legal counsel, the Inspector General of Intelligence Faith Radebe and NPA senior prosecutors advising the continuation of criminal prosecution due to the wealth of available evidence that serious crimes had been committed by Mdluli.
- The current acting head of the NPA is Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba whose credibility has been under question. She was suspended from the NPA while facing charges of dishonesty and bringing the NPA into disrepute after it emerged that she had abused her powers when trying to undermine the corruption investigations into disgraced police chief Jackie Selebi.
- Mdluli provided Jiba with a character witness after she launched legal challenges in an effort to keep her job. The disciplinary charges were dropped and then Head of the NPA Advocate Menzi Simelane appointed her to Deputy National Director. Zuma appointed her as acting head the NPA when the Supreme Court of Appeal found that Simelane was not a fit and proper person to be the head of that organisation.
- President Zuma expunged Jiba’s husbands 2005 criminal record for theft of R195 000 allowing him to continue practicing as a lawyer. Jiba therefore has reasons to act favourably towards both Zuma and Mdluli.
- In March 2012 Mdluli was reinstated to Head of Crime Intelligence.
- On 11 April 2012 the NPA’s Glynnis Breytenbach – the prosecutor who was working on the fraud and corruption case against Mdluli – was shot at while she was driving. On 25 April 2012 two motorbikes tried to force her vehicle off the road. These were blatant attempts to try and stop her prosecution of Mdluli.
- On 30 April 2012 Breytenbach was handed suspension papers. Before her suspension she had threatened going to court to challenge her superior’s decision to withdraw charges against Mdlul and had asked Jiba to refer the matter to Advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, the director of specialised commercial crimes, to review the decision to withdraw the case against Mdluli. This request was never carried out.
- Amidst growing pressure from civil society and opposition parties, on 27 May 2012 Mdluli was suspended from SAPS. This meant that he could not carry out any function as a SAPS member and had to return his police issued firearm and vehicle.
- On 1 June 2012 Mdluli’s suspension was controversially lifted by the Johannesburg Labour Court.
- SAPS brought an urgent court application in the Johannesburg Labour Court to set aside the lifted suspension and on 3 June 2012 this lifting was reversed and Mdluli suspended once again.
- As of 6 June 2012 Mdluli remains suspended.
- Since last year there has been a growing interest and concern surrounding Mdluli and numerous allegations of political interference from Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa and President Zuma protecting him.
- On 23 November 2011 Mdluli wrote a letter to Zuma and others in which he claims that there is a conspiracy against him by four senior SAPS officers to remove him from his job. In this letter he states that, “in the event that I come back to work I will assist the President to succeed next year”.
- This has been interpreted by many as Mdluli announcing that he would help Zuma get re-elected at the ANC elective conference in Mangaung at the end of 2012 if he were reinstated in SAPS.
- The manner in which Zuma, Mthethwa, prosecutors at the NPA and other government officials seem to have shielded Mdluli from facing criminal charges and SAPS disciplinary measures has undermined the rule of law and has violated due process.
4. What is Richard Mdluli’s Position?
- During Mdluli’s bail hearing for charges of fraud and corruption he stated that the charges he faced were fabricated and were the result of a conspiracy against him. He claimed that those responsible for the charges were part of what he termed, the “Mbeki camp”.
- Mdluli presented a secret “Ground Coverage Report” to support his claims of a conspiracy. This document was apparently sent to President Zuma. The report claimed that a group of senior ANC leaders, including at least four cabinet ministers led by Tokyo Sexwale were plotting to unseat President Zuma at the National Conference to be held in Mangaung in December 2012.
- Mdluli wrote at least two letters to President Zuma informing him of a conspiracy and pledging his loyalty and support to the ANC and the president.
- Mdluli maintains that all charges and allegations are unfounded and are part of a plot to remove him from his position.
- Mdluli’s laywer Ike Motloung has claimed that the civil society groups who have challenged a number of decisions relating to Mdluli in court are actually seeking to topple the ANC government and bring down Zuma.
5. Is Richard Mdluli fit to hold office?
- People are innocent until proven guilty and there should be no exception in the case of Mdluli. The many serious allegations levelled against him should be tested by a court of law and his fate decided in such a forum.
- The Head of Crime Intelligence is an incredibly powerful and sensitive position. Whoever holds that position needs to be someone who acts independently and without fear or favour.
- It is also important that his peers and society at large perceives the person in this way – as someone who is trustworthy and does his job in compliance with the rule of law. With the numerous allegations levelled against him, this is at present impossible.
- In the case of Mdluli there is overwhelming evidence that he has been involved in a variety of illegal activities. He should not be and should not have been allowed to carry on performing his job until the facts have been established.
- If, following an investigation or a criminal trial he is found to have done nothing wrong and committed no crime then his suspension must be lifted and he should be reinstated.
- If he is found guilty then the rule of law must take its course.
- Given all the information available Mdluli should not currently hold any position in SAPS and criminal charges against him should be reinstated.
6. Why is this matter of concern to all of us?
- For years the SJC has been actively campaigning for improvements to be made in Khayelitsha’s police and greater criminal justice system through our Justice for All campaign.
- We have also campaigned against corruption, lawlessness and wasteful expenditure of State resources in the Arms Deal and the Bheki Cele lease scandal.
- All the work the SJC conducts is underpinned by a desire to promote the ideals laid out in our Constitution and to uphold democratic values and the rule of law.
- The SJC views the Mdluli matter as an attack on all of these things. The manner in which the Mdluli matter has been handled is a blatant example of corruption and it is clear that preferential treatment has been given to Mdluli because of his political connections.
- How can we expect an ordinary police officer to carry out their job in a professional manner when one of the highest ranking officers in the country is alleged to have committed murder, fraud and corruption – and is then allowed to continue in that position? This has set a terrible example for junior officers who look to senior SAPS members for guidance.
- There are good, honest, hardworking police and there are also those who are corrupt and operate outside the law. The public cannot be expected to trust the police and put their faith in them to protect them against harm and have their best interests at heart when a senior policeman is accused of such serious crimes – and is being protected by senior politicians, police and members of the justice system.
- When public faith in the police diminishes levels of crime and violence can increase. As we have seen recently in Khayelitsha and other areas across the country, people are taking the law into their own hands in vigilante attacks because they feel that police and the justice system are letting them down, are not protecting them and are not assisting them in securing justice once a crime is committed.
7. What action has already been taken?
- Given the national attention the Mdluli matter has been given and the importance of it being handled quickly and effectively, organisations and individuals have already initiated legal processes to deal with this situation.
- Freedom Under Law (FUL) is an NGO headed by anti-Apartheid activist and human rights advocate Dr Mamphele Ramphele. FUL works to, ‘promote democracy under law and to advance the understanding and respect of the rule of law and the principle of legality’.
- FUL instituted legal action to review a number of decisions relating to Mdluli’s suspensions and before Mdluli was suspended on 27 May 2012, wanted the North Gauteng High Court to grant an interdict that would have immediately suspended him. The decision to suspend him can be attributed to the legal action undertaken by FUL. This case began to be heard on 5 June 2012.
- Credit must also go to City Press and other newspapers that have fearlessly investigated and published stories about Mdluli.
- On 28 May 2012 the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela agreed to investigate a complaint lodged by Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale.
- Mdluli has claimed that Sexwale and other ANC ministers are trying to oust Zuma from his position as ANC president. Sexwale alleges that Mdluli’s claims are a fabrication and wants the Public Protector to probe whether State resources have been abused by investigating such claims.
- While the charges arising from the death of Ramogibe were provisionally withdrawn, Mdluli is still the subject of an inquest into his death.
8. What action is the SJC taking?
- At a special Executive Council meeting held on 11 May 2012 it was decided that the SJC would take legal action against decisions surrounding Mdluli.
- Many of the issues which FUL has raised, and the relief it seeks are very similar to those which the SJC would wish to raise in an application to a court.
- For this reason the SJC and Corruption Watch (CW) – a newly formed NGO that, ‘gathers, analyses and shares information on corruption in South Africa’ – will be applying to join FUL’s application in the North Gauteng High Court.
- The formation of Corruption Watch was initiated by COSATU and the trade union body is a major supporter of its work.
- The SJC and CW have decided to lodge a joint application because the two organisations view the Mdluli matter similarly and seek the same relief from a court.
- The reason SJC and CW are seeking to join FUL’s application is that our organisations wish to place further evidence before a court which is not included in FUL’s application and feel that by doing so we will strengthen the chance of the court granting the relief we are requesting.
9. What relief is FUL, SJC and CW asking for?
- In summary, our organisations are asking the North Gauteng High Court to rule on whether it was lawful to:
- Drop all charges against Mdluli;
- Stop internal SAPS disciplinary proceedings against him;
- Reinstate Mdluli as head of Crime Intelligence in March 2012;
- We are further requesting the Court to order that criminal charges against Mdluli be reinstated as well as the SAPS internal disciplinary proceedings against him.
The Crime Intelligence Family Tree – kindly provided for use from Graphics24 and first appearing in City Pressin April 2012