The life of suspended crime intelligence head Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli continues to be stranger than fiction. The controversial cop has now opened a bizarre intimidation case against two senior state prosecutors and a top police investigator, accusing them of plotting either to kill him or to fabricate a murder conspiracy case against him.
Mdluli claimed that he had heard from a "reliable witness" that the alleged plotters were senior Hawks investigator Colonel Kobus Roelofse and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prosecutors, advocates Glynnis Breytenbach and Gerrie Nel.
The trio were being assisted in fabricating lies against him by "senior generals within the Hawks", he further alleged, without naming the officials.
"On 2013-10-15, I received information from a reliable witness who informed me that advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, advocate Gerrie Nel and Colonel Kobus Roelofse were having a secret meeting regarding myself," Mdluli said in the statement he made to police in Boksburg. "They discussed [the fact] that it appeared as if they were not going to succeed in having me stand trial because my matter was going to the Constitutional Court, and that I must be killed or they would try to fabricate a case where they would say [that] I conspired to kill advocate Breytenbach by paying someone R150 000 from the Eastern Cape or Western Cape."
This week, Breytenbach laughed uproariously when told about the intimidation case and the murder plot allegations brought against her by Mdluli, but declined to comment. Her lawyer, Gerhard Wagenaar, said he knew nothing about the case. "If the police approach us, we will take it from there," he said.
National police spokesperson Lieutenant General Makgale Solomon confirmed the case was under investigation.
A police officer familiar with the matter said cases of intimidation did not involve immediate arrest, as they dealt with hearsay information, and statements were taken from all parties involved before further investigation took place.
Several police and legal sources were as stunned as Breytenbach to learn from the Mail & Guardian that Mdluli had opened an intimidation case, and most described the murder and plot allegations by Mdluli as "a waste of state resources" and "laughable" for a number of reasons, including the following:
• Roelofse investigated serious fraud and murder charges against Mdluli, involving the alleged abuse of the crime intelligence secret fund, which led to his arrest. Police also investigated and charged Mdluli with the alleged murder of his love rival in 1999, but both the murder and fraud charges against him were later dropped. This week, the NPA, joined by Mdluli and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega, was granted leave to appeal a Johannesburg high court judgment by Judge John Murphy, who in September ordered the reinstatement of both murder and fraud charges against Mdluli;
• Breytenbach was suspended but cleared of all 15 disciplinary charges laid against her by the NPA in May, and she has always claimed the charges were trumped up after she vigorously opposed a decision to withdraw the serious charges against Mdluli. The NPA’s spokesperson, Nathi Mncube, said the authority could not comment as the matter had not been properly and officially brought to the NPA’s attention; and
• There is an odd twist to Mdluli’s allegations against Nel, who achieved international recognition for his role of chief prosecutor in the case of disgraced former police chief Jackie Selebi. Five years ago, NPA advocate Nomgcobo Jiba was suspended after she was accused of involvement in a conspiracy to have Nel arrested before he could charge Selebi with corruption. Although Mdluli supported Jiba in her labour court application, a former NPA colleague stated in an affidavit that Jiba blamed Nel for the investigation and conviction of her lawyer husband on charges that he had dipped into the trust fund of a firm of attorneys. And although this part of the story reads like a B-movie script, it gets better. After her return to work, Jiba rose up the ranks to take up the job of acting prosecutions chief and her husband, Booker Nhantsi, had his criminal record expunged by President Jacob Zuma in 2010.
Though Mdluli apparently enjoys the support of Zuma, Phiyega and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who it is believed want him to return to work, he added some more layers to his storyline when he quietly opened his intimidation case at the Boksburg police station in October.
"The worst part is [that] advocate Glynnis Breytenbach and advocate Gerrie Nel had been at loggerheads with me and the team which investigated Gerrie Nel in 2008, while I was still a deputy provincial commissioner in Gauteng," Mdluli said in his police statement. "They are trying to [take] revenge against me through dubious means, assisted by the disgruntled members of the Hawks and untrusted intelligence officers and members."
Mdluli claimed he had two people to back his allegations. "They even discussed that they were being assisted by senior generals within the Hawks to fabricate these lies against me. One witness is prepared to mention one general who is working with Glynnis, Nel and Roelofse. They said they did not want me to return to the police and that they had support of the opposition [parties] and individuals within the South African Police Service."
The alleged plotters would then leak the fabricated story to the press, he said in his statement.
Explaining in his statement why he believed the information given to him, Mdluli said he had also opened a police inquiry regarding cars that had been "observing" his home. "I was first chased by a silver Mercedes-Benz, then a Jeep," he said. On other occasions, he said a Corsa and a Ford Ranger, and other vehicles had been spotted observing his house.
Mdluli said in his statement he was prepared to hand his witnesses over to "reliable investigators".
"I desire a police investigation of the people who are conspiring that I be murdered and corrupt people who are making false allegations against me," he said.
"I know and understand the contents of these statements. I have no objection to taking the prescribed oath. I consider the oath as binding on my conscience."
• Mdluli was first suspended by former police commissioner Bheki Cele in May 2011, after disciplinary charges were brought against him following his arrest in March that year on murder and kidnapping charges. These charges related to the murder of Mdluli's alleged love rival, Oupa Ramogibe, in 1999.
• Mdluli was again arrested in September 2011 on fraud and corruption charges relating to the alleged abuse of the crime intelligence secret service account.
• In November 2011, Mdluli wrote a letter to President Jacob Zuma, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and then acting police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, in which he claimed senior police officers were working together against him. In the letter, he also stated: “In the event that I come back to work, I will assist the president [Jacob Zuma] to succeed next year." It is presumed that Mdluli was referring to the ANC conference in Mangaung last year, where Zuma was re-elected as party leader for a second term.
• Freedom Under Law (FUL) initially challenged Mdluli's reinstatement to his post in 2012, after the criminal charges against him were withdrawn. FUL is a nonprofit organisation that promotes democracy and aims to advance the understanding of and respect for the rule of law. FUL claimed in an affidavit last year that Mdluli's reinstatement had caused serious controversy, lack of trust within and outside the ranks of the police service, and instability in the police service, particularly at leadership level.
• FUL obtained an interim order in June 2012 interdicting Mdluli from carrying out his functions and barring the commissioner of police from assigning any tasks to him, pending the finalisation of the review proceedings that were dealt with by Judge John Murphy this year.
• In September this year, Judge Murphy handed down a landmark judgment ordering the reinstatement of criminal and disciplinary charges against him.
• On Monday this week, the Johannesburg high court granted Mdluli, police commissioner Riah Phiyega and the newly appointed national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana leave to appeal the court order by Judge Murphy to reinstate murder and corruption charges against Mdluli. FUL did not oppose the application for leave to appeal.
• Phiyega undertook in court to give FUL 30 days' notice if she intended to lift Mdluli's suspension. — Glynnis Underhill