/ 10 April 2012

Mdluli murder inquiry postponed

The inquest into the killing of the husband of crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli’s former lover has been postponed to April 30.

The inquiry got underway in the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday in a bid to shed light on the 1999 murder of Oupa Ramogibe.

Criminal charges were recently withdrawn against Mdluli, court orderly Samuel Dlomo, Colonel Nkosana Sebastian Ximba, and Lieutenant Colonel Mtunzi-Omhle Mthembeni Mtunzi.

The initial charges against Mdluli included intimidation, kidnapping, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

At the time of Ramogibe’s killing, Mdluli was the branch commander of the Vosloorus police station.

The inquiry heard that Mdluli had applied for financial assistance from the State, and that Ximba and Dlomo were also under financial constraints.

Tuesday was the first day of what had initially been scheduled as a 10-day hearing. Some 39 witnesses were meant to testify during the inquiry.

Magistrate Jurg Viviers said witnesses might have distorted memories as too much time had elapsed since the crime.

Seven witnesses had been placed in the costly witness protection programme, which Viviers said he would take into account when deciding on a postponement date.

Viviers said the inquest was not about finding someone guilty, but to ensure that guilt would not remain hidden if it did exist.

He allowed testimony from investigating officer Kobus Roelofse before making a decision on a postponement.

Roelofse had compiled a 67-page affidavit with a detailed history of the case, and that of Mdluli and the three others. This evidence was presented previously at the four’s bail hearing.

He said there was a first attempt on Ramogibe’s life in December 1998, the night he borrowed Ximba’s car. Dlomo was assigned to investigate the matter.

On February 17 1999, he was taking Ramogibe to point out where the attempt on his life had taken place when they were approached by two men.

“Dlomo said he was ordered to hand over his service pistol and lie down on the ground … thereafter he heard shots,” Roelofse told the inquiry.

The car was taken and a short while later Dlomo found Ramogibe dead. Roelofse said a post mortem revealed Ramogibe was shot in the brain, lung and heart.

Police initially suspected armed robbery as the motive. The case docket later went missing.

Roelofse said Mdluli had been having an affair with Tshidi Buthelezi since 1986. In 1997 Buthelezi met Ramogibe while still in a relationship with Mdluli. Buthelezi’s relative Alice Manana was a witness to their marriage in July 1998.

Roelofse said Ramogibe and Buthelezi had not informed their families of their marriage.

“Mdluli, Ximba, Mthunzi, and Dlomo visited the homes of various family members … in an attempt to convince them by means of intimidation to put pressure on Buthelezi and the deceased to stop their relationship,” said Roelofse.

The inquiry heard that the couple went into hiding from Mdluli shortly after their marriage.

Between August and October 1998, Manana was taken against her will from her home, allegedly by Mdluli, Ximba and Mtunzi.

Later the couple were found and taken to the Vosloorus SAPS with Manana. Roelofse said the trio were allegedly intimidated and assaulted. Manana was attacked at her home in October 1998.

The inquiry heard Ximba had failed to disclose a previous arrest to the court. He was arrested by the Independent Complaints Directorate in 2009 for the torture of Vusi Msimango and his friend. The case was later struck off the court roll. — Sapa