Mdluli off hook on murder rap – for now

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has withdrawn charges of murder and attempted murder against former crime intelligence boss Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli and his three co-accused, who were due to stand trial in April.

In a statement on Thursday, NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the charges had been provisionaly withdrawn in response to a decision by the South Gauteng director of public prosecutions, advocate Andrew Chauke, after he received representations from the accused in which “they raised certain issues relating to the case”.

“Chauke felt that all these issues, and the evidence as a whole, can best be ventilated through a formal inquest ... before it can go to trial,” Mhaga said.

Mdluli, Lieutenant Colonel Omhle Mtunzi, Samuel Dlomo and Colonel Nkosana Ximba were arrested and charged early last year with murder and defeating the ends of justice for their alleged involvement in the 1999 murder of Oupa Ramogibe.

Ramogibe, whose wife was alleged to have been Mdluli’s lover, was shot in the company of policemen.

Mhaga said the NPA could not divulge the issues that had been raised, but that the call for an inquest was “standard practice when there are crucial evidential issues that have a bearing on the prosecution in murder cases”.

‘Flagrant abuse’
Media reports last year quoted parts of Mdluli’s representations to Chauke in which his attorney claimed that the state had no case against him and the trial was a “flagrant abuse of the criminal justice system”.

Mdluli also referred to his claim that he was the victim of a political conspiracy: “The head of crime intelligence is a hotly contested position. The appointment was met with resistance and cynicism by some [and] it is therefore no coincidence that allegations implicating him in a murder came to the fore just 10 days after his appointment as head of crime intelligence.”

This is the second time the NPA has granted Mdluli a reprieve. In December it provisionally withdrew fraud and corruption charges against him and his co-accused, Colonel Heine Barnard, supply chain manager for crime intelligence’s secret services account, on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them.

Mdluli and Barnard faced fraud and corruption charges linked to a R90 000 discount allegedly solicited to pay a shortfall on Mdluli’s private car in 2010.

Mdluli has repeatedly dismissed all the allegations as part of a politically inspired witch-hunt.

He claimed last year that people were “trying to get rid of him” because former president Thabo Mbeki’s camp was trying to take over police intelligence ahead of the ANC’s conference later this year.

In October 2010 Mdluli declassified a secret report on “corruption and related activities” in KwaZulu-Natal.

The report focused on now-suspended national police commissioner General Bheki Cele, claiming that he was part of a faction opposed to President Jacob Zuma that included Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile. It also claimed that Cele was involved in organised crime and corruption in KwaZulu-Natal.

Cele denied the claims.

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Sally Evans

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