Police escort in Mdluli case raises spectre of 'Mafia-style crime network'Apr 4, 2011
The National Prosecuting Authority has placed a second prosecutor under police protection in just two weeks, raising concerns about a "wider network of organised crime" in South Africa.This emerged after the appearance yesterday of Colonel Mtunzi-Omhle Mtunzi, 52, in the Boksburg Magistrate's Court, east of Johannesburg, in connection with the murder case against police spy boss Richard Mdluli.
Mdluli and his co-accused, Colonel Nkosana Ximba and Warrant Officer Samuel Dlomo, a court orderly, appeared in the Boksburg Magistrate's Court last Thursday in connection with the alleged murder of Oupa Ramogibe 12 years ago.
Mdluli was reportedly in love with Ramogibe's girlfriend, with whom he also has a child.
At the time of the murder Mdluli was head of detectives at the Vosloorus police station, east of Johannesburg.
Mtunzi, a colonel who also works in the police's crime intelligence unit, was arrested on Friday, is the fourth accused in the Mdluli matter. He faces charges including murder, kidnapping and serious assault.
NPA spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga yesterday confirmed that prosecutor Kholeka Gcaleka "is under protection". He said the NPA was "not at liberty to discuss the factors taken into account" in making the decision.
After Mtunzi's appearance yesterday, Gcaleka was escorted from the court by two armed policemen and driven away in a police vehicle.
She is the second prosecutor in just two weeks to be assigned a police escort, after prosecutor Riegel du Toit was given an armed escort in the fraud trial of Radovan Krejcir. Du Toit's name appears on what is believed to be a hit list found in a raid on Krejcir's home.
Johan Burger, a senior analyst at the Institute for Security Studies, yesterday told The Times the two most likely scenarios in which Gcaleka would be assigned a police escort were if there were "a typical Mafia-style crime network in which case everyone involved in the trial should be protected", or if Mdluli's influence was "so great that there would be fears about her safety".
Last week The Times reported that Mdluli was also being kept in protective custody because of conflict between factions within the police force. All four accused will appear in the Boksburg Magistrate's Court again on Thursday.
Gauteng's new police commissioner, Mzwandile Petros, at a conference on crime in Pretoria yesterday. He succeeds Perumal Naidoo, who has retired, and has vowed to increase police visibility.