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Court sets aside lifting of Mdluli's suspension

Sapa

The Johannesburg Labour Court has set aside the lifting of the suspension of Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, with costs.

Richard Mdluli during a wreath laying ceremony for fallen intelligence civilian community at the State Intelligence Agency's headquarters in Pretoria. (Phill Magakoe)
Mdluli had been granted an order lifting his suspension by the same court on Friday, despite the absence of South African Police Service’s (SAPS) lawyers in court.
 
Judge Andre van Niekerk on Sunday agreed with the urgency of SAPS’s application, considering its public importance, with it being in the interest of all parties that the matter be resolved as soon as possible.
 
In making his ruling, Van Niekerk said if the court had been aware of the facts, the order to lift Mdluli’s suspension on Friday would not have been granted.
 
The matter was initially scheduled to be heard on Monday but Mdluli’s legal representation had the matter brought forward to Friday.
 
The state’s attorney believed documents received notifying them of the change of date – two hours before the Friday hearing – related to documents received on Thursday for Monday’s scheduled court appearance.
 
The reason Mdluli’s application on Friday was not opposed was due to the state being unaware it was taking place, said Van Niekerk.
 
‘Series of events’
There was no basis to conclude the state attorney was at fault, and he had in fact handled the matter with diligence, the judge said.
Mdluli had also changed legal counsel, but still had two representatives on record.
 
“A series of events construed to the granting of the order,” said Van Niekerk.
 
He described Mdluli’s opposition to the SAPS’s application as bordering on “vexatious,” and ordered Mdluli to also pay costs.
 
In court papers, attorney William Mokhari SC arguing for acting national police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi on Saturday, said Friday’s order was secured under circumstances which were grossly irregular.
 
He questioned how the court could have ruled on the matter when the case had been set down for June 4.
 
Mokhari said all parties involved in the case were informed on Thursday afternoon that it would only be heard on Monday.
 
‘Vivid’
Sunday’s ruling was a victory for the police, Brigadier Lindela Mashigo said.
 
“It is vivid, it is clear the general [Mdluli] did not follow court rules ... We are glad with the outcome of today. Justice has been served.”
 
He said Mkhwanazi had been notified of the ruling and would be content with the result.
 
The SAPS expected to hear from Mdluli’s legal representatives soon, with Monday’s hearing now expected to be rescheduled, and Mdluli again suspended.
 
Mdluli was suspended for the second time on May 27 by Mkhwanazi.
 
Last year, Mdluli faced fraud and corruption charges relating to the misuse of a secret crime intelligence fund to buy luxury vehicles, and to hire family members.
 
He also faced a murder charge for the death of his former lover’s husband, Oupa Ramogibe. The charges led to his initial suspension.
 
This year, all the charges were withdrawn and Mdluli was reinstated in March. This was widely criticised by, among others, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and lobby group Freedom Under Law.
 
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa later moved Mdluli to a different division but Mkhwanazi subsequently opted to suspend him.
 
‘Common sense’
Meanwhile, the DA has called the ruling a victory for common sense.
 
“The attempt by Mdluli and his legal representatives to undermine and abuse the judiciary has been stopped in its tracks,” DA police spokesperson Dianne Kohler Barnard said in a statement on Sunday.
 
“Mdluli should be kept as far away as possible from the South African Police Service offices until he has answered all the allegations against him,” she said.
 
Kohler Barnard said the sooner the questions surrounding Mdluli were answered, the sooner the credibility of the police and crime intelligence could be restored. – Sapa

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