/ 30 October 2009

Drunk-driving Mti forced to take back seat

The head of security for the 2010 Fifa World Cup is taking the back seat — literally — after pleading guilty to driving drunk and having his driver’s licence confiscated for six months.

Linda Mti, the beleaguered former commissioner of correctional services and a previous chairperson of the African National Congress in the Eastern Cape, may not drive his car until April next year after entering a plea and sentence agreement with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Port Elizabeth two weeks ago.

Mti, who was convicted of the same offence in 1992 and acquitted on a technicality for driving sloshed last year in Johannesburg, admitted guilt in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court for being almost three times over the legal limit when he crashed into another vehicle in February 2005.

He was given the option of a R20 000 fine, which he paid, or two months’ imprisonment. Mti also received a six-month sentence, suspended for five years, provided he doesn’t drive intoxicated during that period. But the most inconvenient part of his sentence is probably the suspension of his driver’s licence. The World Cup starts in June, which means Mti won’t be able to drive a car until two months before the tournament kicks off.

According to the Organising Committee’s Rich Mkhondo, Mti has indicated that he will make “personal arrangements” to be transported to and from the office to ensure his work is not affected. The committee still regards him as a suitable person for the job and he disclosed his pending trial to the committee during his interview.

Mti left the prisons department under a cloud in 2006 after being linked to the controversial Bosasa group of companies, which were awarded multimillion-rand tenders on his watch.

The Special Investigating Unit recently finished its investigation into the awarding of these tenders and referred it to the NPA for decision-making on criminal prosecution.