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Sam Sole, Sally Evans10 May 2012 07:53
Richard Mdluli. (David Harrison, M&G)
A variety of pressures appear to have forced Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to beat a strategic retreat by transferring Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli from his post as head of crime intelligence.But Mthethwa’s statement to Parliament this week also makes it clear that the war for the control of police intelligence-gathering and investigation is far from over.Mthethwa said that he had asked chief state law adviser Enver Daniels to investigate a letter written by Mdluli to President Jacob Zuma in November last year in which he alleged he had received information that the charges made against him were part of a plot by senior generals.Mdluli said his sources named Hawks boss Anwa Dramat, operational services head Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Mzwandile Petros and suspended police commissioner General Bheki Cele as being among them.Mthethwa told Parliament: “This letter seems to have political connotations and has caused tensions within the management of SAPS. It alludes to some conspiracy theory of some in the management ganging up against him.
“I have instituted a task team, led by the state law adviser, to investigate such allegations because they are so serious as to suggest the meddling of policing functions in politics.”News reports said that acting commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi raised concerns with Zuma that Mdluli’s allegations were creating divisions among his staff.What Mdluli himself has dubbed “a media campaign and propaganda” appears also to have gained significant public and political traction, forcing the minister to deflect some of the criticism over Mdluli’s reinstatement as crime intelligence boss. A wide spectrum of commentators have been highly critical of Zuma’s perceived backing of Mdluli, despite serious allegations about his involvement in a 1999 murder and in abuses of the secret services account.Mkhwanazi, initially regarded as having been appointed because he was young and pliable, has played a key role in pushing back against political manipulation and countering efforts to spin the Mdluli story.He has been remarkably frank in public statements. In what were interpreted as comments relating to the Mdluli investigation, Mkhwanazi spoke in Parliament last month about “other powers beyond us” influencing how cases were managed. And on SAFM radio this week, he insisted the corruption docket on Mdluli had been referred back to the acting director of public prosecutions Nomcebo Jiba for a decision.It is the same case that suspended senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach has challenged Jiba to reinstate.Mkhwanazi reiterated that the allegations against Mdluli were “serious” and were still the subject of an internal “departmental” probe.But if Mdluli is a proxy for a factional battle to control key aspects of the security cluster, then Mthethwa’s address in Parliament was by no means a capitulation.
He also announced he had ordered an investigation into the police technology management division, which controls a budget of approximately R2.6-billion. In December Mthethwa said he had discovered “another act of mismanagement” in the SAPS. Not named but implicated was Major General Mzondeki “Sean” Tshabalala, who was shifted from technology management to the SAPS inspectorate, widely regarded as a “graveyard” posting. Tshabalala, a former head of VIP protection, was perceived to be close to former police commissioner Jackie Selebi. The subsequent appointment of a former consultant, BS Ngubane, to take over as divisional commissioner for technology management was described by one source as “a pre-emptive move” by Mthethwa.
The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, supported by M&G Media and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, produced this story. All views are the centre’s. www.amabhungane.co.za.
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Sally is a reporter at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism, Amabhungane.
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