Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Mdluli fails to have high court judge recused

Pretoria high court Judge Bert Bam on Tuesday dismissed an application by Richard Mdluli for his recusal, filed 10 days after the state brought an application to bar him from further delays in his fraud and corruption trial.

In dismissing the application by the Zuma-era crime intelligence boss, whose descent from grace began a decade ago, Bam said it lacked substance and bordered on being undertaken in bad faith.

The reasons for recusal given by Mdluli’s legal counsel included that the judge was biased and failed to apply his mind when issuing a warrant for his arrest in early March.

The warrant was issued after Mdluli repeatedly failed to appear in court and his lawyers snubbed the state’s request that it submit a list of all pre-trial applications it intended to bring in the matter. 

Mdluli was arrested in September 2011 on fraud and corruption charges stemming from the alleged embezzlement of R69-million from the police’s intelligence slush fund.

But the charges were dropped three months later by then senior National Prosecuting Authority official Lawrence Mrwebi.

The decision was successfully taken on review but it took years to secure the declassification of relevant documents. It was only in August 2020 that Mdluli, former crime intelligence manager Heine Barnard and former senior officer Solomon Lazarus finally appeared in court to face 19 charges.

Mdluli’s attorneys then signalled that they would bring a number of pre-trial applications, involving among others his ability to testify on covert police processes.

In October last year, they were then asked to submit an exhaustive list of all pre-trial applications contemplated. However, the attorneys responded by noting that they were seized with preparing to appeal the five-year sentence Mdluli is serving for kidnapping a love rival.

“For now, our attention is focused on preparing and compiling our papers for the appeal against his convictions and sentences and [we] cannot give this matter any attention,” the prosecution quoted from their correspondence in its application.

Mdluli then missed four court dates, prompting Bam to issue a warrant for his arrest on 4 March. 

In February he claimed an undisclosed illness prevented him from coming to court, after his attorneys had earlier cited logistical difficulties in ensuring his attendance with correctional services authorities. They had also informed the court that they would bring an application that the state pay for an advocate of Mdluli’s choosing to defend him.

On 26 March, the state filed an application in terms of section 342A of the Criminal Procedure Act to prevent him from forcing any undue delays.

“Although the current delay is only five months it is respectfully submitted that the honourable court should have regard to the fact that due to interference the total delay in this matter is now close to 10 years,” the state submitted. 

“Whereas the prior delays can be attributed to various persons,” the submission said, it added that the delays since October 2020 could only be attributed to Mdluli.

The state added that Mdluli was robbing his co-accused of the right to a speedy and fair trial by delaying and frustrating the process.

It asked that the court rule that the pre-trial would commence on 18 June, regardless of whether Mdluli had secured funding, and the trial on 4 October.

However, after discussions with Bam and Mdluli, who was at court on Tuesday, the state abandoned the application. The judge gave Mdluli one month to bring an application for state funding for his legal fees.

Mdluli, a close ally of former president Jacob Zuma, was jailed last year for kidnapping, assaulting and intimidating Oupa Ramogibe in 1998. Ramogibe died after the kidnapping.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Cape Flats gangsters, children die in fight over turf

Extortion rackets are part of a corrupt system that includes religious leaders, councillors, police and syndicates

Tobacco farmers want the taxman to do more to control...

The Black Tobacco Farmers’ Association the introduction of a minimum price level for cigarettes

More top stories

South Africa moves back to adjusted level 3, schools to...

Vaccination capacity to be increased as the government announces financial support measures for those affected by Covid-19 restrictions and the recent civil unrest

Water sector to clean up its act

The Blue and Green Drop programmes are being relaunched to rebuild SA’s often poorly maintained and ‘looted’ water systems

Afforestation can hinder fight against global warming if done wrong,...

A simplistic approach to tree restoration without not properly accounting for the complexities of plant and atmosphere interactions can cause problems

Carbon tax to align to UN treaties

Amendments to offset regulations published on 8 July give clarity on big emitters carrying old carbon credits to a new framework
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×