Mdluli allegedly tried to sabotage murder probe by two seasoned intelligence officers....
Apr 4, 2011
Arrested police spy boss Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli allegedly launched a systematic witch-hunt against two of his crime intelligence officers to stop them investigating his suspected role in the murder of his former lover's boyfriend.
Mdluli, held last week for the murder 12 years ago, allegedly threatened to transfer warrant officers HMagabe and Thomas Rikhotso as uniformed officers to police stations more than 300km from their homes and instituted spurious disciplinary proceedings against them.
This was allegedly after Mdluli and one of his co-accused in the 1999 murder case, Colonel Nkosana Ximba, learned that the two intelligence officers had made inquiries about the dormant murder docket of Oupa Ramogibe after a tip-off.
Mdluli accused the two of leaking information to the Sowetan newspaper in July 2009 about his alleged links to the murder. Mdluli, Vosloorus police station commander when Ramogibe was shot dead in the township in 1999, was appointed head of crime intelligence shortly before the Sowetan article was published. Ramogibe, killed while pointing out to the police the scene of an earlier attempt on his life, was involved with a woman with whom Mdluli was romantically linked.
Magabe and Rikhotso, who together have 40 years of police experience, 20 with crime intelligence, were unavailable for comment yesterday.
According to documents The Times has seen, and South African Police Union general secretary Oscar Skommere, Magabe and Rikhotso have been subjected to surveillance and unauthorised cellphone bugging since February 2009.
They had become so unnerved that they were receiving counselling. Their appeals to national police commissioner Bheki Cele for his protection had fallen on deaf ears.
Police spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo yesterday refused to confirm or deny the allegations, but said an internal investigation was under way into "various aspects'' of crime intelligence.
A highly placed police officer said the investigation of Mdluli and his unit "would open a whole new can of worms" and included "very serious issues".
"This is a massive investigation. It's going to cast a bad light on this country's intelligence world. It is going to be nasty."
In one of many letters of complaint about the alleged victimisation of Magabe and Rikhotso, the police union's legal representative, Kwena Moabelo, asked Cele in March last year to intervene in the "witch-hunt".
Skommere said the union felt "vindicated" by the arrests of Mdluli and three co-accused, but there had been prolonged injustices against its members for doing their job.
"Our members have all along professed that they did nothing wrong but knew these charges and victimisation were an attempt to frustrate them in doing their jobs," said Skommere.
He said there was ample proof that Mdluli tried to scupper the investigation of the two officers in connection with Ramogibe's murder. This includes his failure to finalise disciplinary proceedings since 2009.
Magabe and Rikhotso were to have had their hearings finalised within 60 days in terms of police discipline regulations but, after 22 months and one hearing that resulted in a "no-verdict" judgment, there is still no resolution.
According to the charge sheet of the disciplinary hearing, issued in March last year, more than a year after the alleged offence, the two officers were to face charges from February 23 to September 2009.
They were accused of misconduct in that they:
- Failed to adhere to basic police principles by investigating Mdluli and others for "unfounded" allegations relating to the Ramogibe murder without an intelligence docket inquiry;
- Misled a colleague at the Vosloorus detective unit into believing that their murder investigation was properly authorised;
- Tried to frame Mdluli and others, and conspired to prevent him being promoted to his current job;
- Failed to keep a record of information gathered, or to report back to the SAPS; and
- Failed to respect Mdluli's "basic human rights" and "humiliating" and "discriminating" against him through a Sowetan article on July 10 last year.
In its letter to Cele, the union labelled the allegations "baseless, vexatious and unfounded". At the time, Sapu wrote that: "Mdluli has a history of antagonism against the employees. This can be deduced from his attempts to get rid of them from crime intelligence without a just cause."
The union said Mdluli, in letters dated February 9 2010, went as far as wanting to transfer Magabe and Rikhotso to crime prevention units.
Both warrant officers are stationed on the East Rand. Mdluli reportedly wanted to transfer them to Sebokeng and Magaliesberg.
Mdluli, Ximba and their co-accused, court orderly Samuel Dlomo and Lieutenant-Colonel Mtunzi Omhle Mthembeni Mtunzi, will appear in the Boksburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday on charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, intimidation, serious assault, kidnapping and obstructing and/or defeating the ends of justice.
Skommere said the union had asked the state to withdraw the charges against the two officers.