'Murder' magistrate unmoved by Mdluli's money plight

The inquest into the murder of Oupa Ramogibe will continue at the Boksburg magistrate’s court in September a magistrate has ruled, saying the rights of a few interested parties must not take precedence over the those of the victim’s family or other witnesses.

The inquest is taking place in order to determine whether there is enough evidence to prosecute a murder trial. Murder charges against crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli were provisionally withdrawn in February, pending the outcome of the inquest.

Ramogibe was shot dead in 1999 shortly after marrying Tshidi Buthelezi, with whom, the inquest has learned, Mdluli had a son.
Mdluli, then a senior officer at Vosloorus Police Station, is said to have been unhappy about the couple’s union.

He was arrested for Ramogibe’s murder last year, and the charges were provisionally dropped on February

Mdluli, now considered one of four “interested parties” in Ramogibe’s murder, was not present in court.

His lawyer, Ike Motloung, told the court that Mdluli’s request for state funding from the police for his legal bills was declined by acting national police commissioner General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.

Mdluli is going to take this decision on review. However, magistrate Jurg Viviers told the court that the application for state funding could not be a reason for holding up the inquest.

Viviers said the rights of Mdluli, and his three fellow witnesses, Colonel Nkosana Ximba, Samuel Dhlomo and Omhle Mtunzi, appeared to be the only rights being considered in the pre-inquest hearing.

He said that there were other people involved, including the Ramogibe family, state advocates and other witnesses in the witness protection programme who also have rights.

“At the moment the only rights we are considering are the four suspects, which is not fair to the other persons. What I am saying is that with or without the legal representations this matter is going ahead on September 3 and I am setting aside a month for it to be heard,” Viviers said.

He added that the four had “plenty of time” to arrange legal representation by September, whether or not their applications for state funding were accepted on review, or declined.

Motloung then told the court he was concerned by the media’s interpretation of Mdluli’s role in the inquest, saying that his client is “not a suspect or an accused” but rather Mdluli and the three others are merely “interested parties”.

All parties must return to court on May 28 for final clarity on the position of legal representation.

Mdluli has repeatedly dismissed the allegations against him 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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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

Sally Evans

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