Richard Mdluli sleeps “very nicely” at night because he knows he is innocent of the murder and fraud allegations being relentlessly heaped on him, he told the Mail & Guardian in an exclusive interview on a guest farm outside Cape Town.
Claiming that allegations against him were a “racist”-driven plot, Mdluli said white policemen were brought from the Western Cape to investigate him, but declined to go into further detail. All the journalists who were writing “bad things” about him were white, he said.
In buoyant spirits, the man who should be depressed about his troubled situation said he was certain he would be cleared soon and handed back his post as police crime intelligence boss. He denied being a friend of President Jacob Zuma or getting protection by him and said he would be reinstated because he was innocent.
“I have never been involved in a murder. I have never been involved in the killing of anyone,” Mdluli said, speaking passionately. “For the 33 years I have been in the police, I have never pulled the trigger and killed a person in my life.”
Mdluli denied he had taken away Anwa Dramat’s powers as Hawks boss to apply to a judge for communication interceptions.
Hullaballoo based on nothing
“Intelligence deals with a lot of matters. Dramat probably has more powers than me. He is a lieutenant general, I am a lieutenant general, but he is a divisional comissioner. We leave the Hawks or general detectives to do their jobs. The mandate of crime intelligence is to support the [Hawks] and detectives. There is nothing which has been taken away from them. If somebody says there is something I have changed, he must give you a document which says I changed it.”
This week Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula claimed his phone was being bugged. Mdluli said people who claimed such a thing might be under investigation.
“They are making a lot of hullaballoo based on nothing. If we bug people, there might be something to bug them about. But our legal people look at all these things and the judge approves. “
Claims that he plundered the police secret service account would also be proven untrue, he said, and was part of a broader investigation into crime intelligence by the office of the inspector general for intelligence.
A bonus for him is that the state law adviser, Enver Daniels, is now setting up a committee to investigate whether there is a conspiracy against him.
This week he agreed to be temporarily moved from his top job pending the outcome of all proceedings against him.
Discussions are still being held about the position he will now occupy. “It was done by mutual agreement. We are now waiting for processes to take place. I haven’t been given another position but whatever I do, I will do to the best of my ability. I am not involved in those things they put in the newspaper. I am not involved in buying fancy cars, I am not involved in promoting junior people. I am involved at a strategic level in senior management. This thing of Mdluli appointing his family, it’s just not the case. I am involved at a strategic level in senior management.”
Mdluli firmly denied allegations that he had helped Zuma during his own legal battles in fighting a charge of rape and another of corruption and claimed he did not even know the president.
The intelligence reports alleging a plot to unseat Zuma that were leaked to the M&G, on the day he was arrested last year, were not declassified by him, he said. The reports, which also contained untested allegations against the now-suspended national police commissioner, Bheki Cele, did not contain his signature.
“That ground intelligence report is bullshit. It never came from me,” he said. Asked why his signature was on it declassifying the document, he said it was a forgery.
Speculation that he was touted for the post of national police commissioner, if Cele was found to be unfit for his post, were also untrue, Mdluli said.
“Where does it come from that I will be the next national police commissioner? It never came from me. Somebody came with the propaganda. Let us keep him in the media and keep on talking very bad things about him.
“I never said I want to be the national police commissioner. But if the calling comes, and if they say they see I have the relevant skills to do this job, probably I would think about it and consider. But there are still two people in that post, one acting and one suspended.”
A top student at his police college, Mdluli was hand-picked and thrust into the detective branch during the apartheid era. It has been an upward climb for the man who was once a rural cattle herder and forced to leave school because of poverty.
Mdluli said he was a reserved person by nature, and had found it hard to be open about the “injustices” he had experienced.
In terms of both the murder and fraud allegations that were withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority, he claims he was being set up. He is awkward about being thrust in the limelight and, uneasy about being photographed, he only conceded to posing after his high-ranking legal and public relations team gave the nod.
Mdluli was accused of being involved in the 1999 murder of Oupa Ramogibe, who had become romantically linked to his girlfriend. Then a station commander at Vosloosrus on the East Rand, the alleged murder was investigated by police 13 years ago.
The M&G has ascertained that complaints were laid against Mdluli and others at the police watchdog body, known as the Independent Complaints Directorate. Mdluli was never charged, until last year when he was unexpectedly arrested and sent to jail for 21 days.
“I don’t want to talk about the matter currently being heard by a judicial inquest. I might be called as a witness and I don’t want to prejudice the inquest. What I can tell you is that I still maintain my innocence,” he insisted.
At the time of the murder, South Africa had some of the best murder and robbery units and they had looked into the Ramogibe case, he said. “If they thought they had something and were capable of bringing evidence against me, they would have done so.”
People might “brandish” stories about his previous loves because he had also “once been young”.
“Me planning to kill someone? Sorry. Not me.”
‘I am innocent’
Asked whether he had heard rumours that people had been paid to make up stories against him, he said he had not wanted to bring it up. “I heard that people were being paid to live in nice areas, nice places and to eat nice food. These were some of the rumours and let’s wait and see what is going to come out of the inquiry.”
Although he had the services of crime intelligence to help him to investigate who was alleged to be setting him up, Mdluli said he had not wanted to use state resources.
“I didn’t want to interfere with any police job. They have done their good work and we need to wait for the inquest. I don’t need to worry about such things, because I am innocent. I rely on my team of legal people and rely on what I know in my mind.”
Mdluli said his family had suffered. “Last year it was very tough for them. We have been surviving and we have to survive.”
As a high-ranking police officer, prison had not been easy, he said. “I heard that people were going to poison my food, but nothing happened.”
Mdluli did not identify the people he claims had set him up, but in a leaked letter he wrote to Zuma he accused a number of top police brass, including Hawks boss Anwa Dramat, of plotting against him.
Mdluli said he would one day find the time to write a book about his experiences. “I will write a book. I have started on it and sometime it will come out.”
Asked what he would call it, the top cop, who is turning 54 next week, said: “The good and the bad of the police.”