National police crime intelligence head Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli, 52, is in the custody of collagues after handing himself over to authorities. According to police, Mdluli handed himself over to investigators at the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
Mdluli was arrested in connection with a murder in February 1999, the police said in a statement. He appeared in the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on charges of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, intimidation, corruption and defeating the ends of justice. Mdluli was remanded in custody and is expected back in court in seven days for a formal bail application, the state BuaNews agency reported.
Vosloorus resident Oupa Abel Ramogibe was murdered after allegedly being threatened by Mdluli. The two were involved in a love triangle with a woman known only as Tshidi, who had a child with Mdluli, the Times newspaper reported yesterday.
Mdluli spent some days on the run before turning himself in, French news agency AFP added. “He handed himself over to the court with his lawyer present after 1pm,” said Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority. Mdluli’s two co-accused, court official Samuel Dlomo and Warrant Officer Nkosana Ximba, also appeared in court, he said.
Police are searching for a fourth person who is believed to be involved in the case. A warrant for Mdluli’s arrest was issued on Monday and the top cop had arranged to hand himself over, but failed to do so, according to police sources. His arrest is likely to cause further divisions within the country’s top crime fighting units, AFP said. He is seen as close to Jackie Selebi, the former police commissioner last year convicted of corruption for accepting more than R1.2 million in bribes from organised crime between 2000 and 2005.
Major General Nonkululeko Mbatha, spokeswoman for National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele said contrary to media reports the arrest had nothing to do with the recent arrest of Czech fraud accused Radovan Krejcir. The Mail & Guardian reported Friday that the Hawks were probing Mdluli and Gauteng crime intelligence boss Joey Mabasa over allegations that they interfered with the Hawks’ investigation into Czech fraud accused Radovan Krejcir. However, Mbatha said the charges Mdluli faced had nothing to do with the Krejcir case. “It relates to a 1998/1999 case of intimidation and assault. It has nothing to do with Krejcir,” she said.
The Beeld newspaper reported that 14 family members close to the murder case were put into a witness protection programme last week. Both publications reported that Mdluli was supposed to have handed himself over to police on Tuesday, but failed to do so. However, an accomplice apparently did turn himself in. Another newspaper reported earlier in March that tensions between Cele and Mdluli were “sky high” after two police crime intelligence officers raided the Public Protector’s office.
Cele was reported to be livid when he found out about the “unannounced visit” to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Pretoria office. Police management suspended the two counter-intelligence officers. Madonsela is currently probing apparently irregular property deals involving Cele. One of the deals, in Pretoria, will cost taxpayers R500 million.
Mdluli was promoted from deputy head of Gauteng police to head of national crime intelligence on July 1 2009 after Cabinet confirmation by the then-acting police chief Tim Williams. Mdluli was a deputy provincial commissioner in Gauteng at the time of is promotion. He joined the police in August 1979 and was immediately placed in the detective environment. He worked his way up through the ranks as an investigator, detective branch commander and also served as an officer in crime intelligence. At the time of his appointment the police called him “a competent leader, able to motivate members under his command and lead by example as an experienced investigator.”
William said Mdluli “has proved himself to be an invaluable asset to the South African Police Service and I have no doubt that he will lead the Crime Intelligence Division with dedication, commitment and integrity”. Williams, another Selebi acolyte, has since retired.
Madonsela last June called for an investigation into the conduct of Mdluli for failing to act on allegations that police officers were dealing in drugs and stolen car parts. Madonsela says while Mdluli was Gauteng deputy provincial commissioner, he ignored a complaint that police were allegedly involved in criminal activity, Eyewitness News reported at the time.
Democratic Alliance police shadow minister Dianne Kohler Barnard in a statement said there “are really only two possible reasons that Mdluli did not take up this investigation: either he is incompetent and unable to perform a basic oversight role or he has a vested interest in the Gauteng SAPS not being investigated.”
Kohler Barnard says a complaint was made to the Gauteng police commissioner in November 2008 that members of the police were involved in criminal activities relating to drug-dealing and illegal car towing and “chopping” in the Tshwane (Pretoria) region. Mdluli was tasked with investigating the matter but, according to the Protector, he did nothing more than acknowledge receipt of the complaint without any attendant investigation. “This serious neglect of public duty is a direct indictment on Mdluli’s suitability to serve the public as required by the Police Act and raises serious questions as to his ability to serve in his current position as police intelligence chief,” Kohler Barnard says.
Mdluli has a B Tech in Policing degree and is married with three children.