Thursday, May 3, 2012

Call grows for Mdluli action

CHANDRÉ PRINCE and GRAEME HOSKEN | 04 May, 2012 01:02

National police crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli Picture: PEGGY NKOMOSO
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Mdluli's night of the long knives While parliament's police oversight committee refused to discuss spy boss Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli's fitness to hold office yesterday, pressure mounted on President Jacob Zuma and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to intervene in the matter.
If Zuma and Mthethwa fail to order a swift investigation into Mdluli - who was controversially reinstated as crime intelligence boss in April after murder and fraud charges against him were questionably withdrawn - the South African Police Service will be "seriously tarnished".

Even worse, says the Pan African Congress's Mudini Maivha, the credibility of the police will be compromised if a senior officer such as Mdluli is mired in suspicion and allegations of a range of criminal activities.

"The public is entitled to a full investigation of the allegations against Mdluli because of their serious nature. As a senior law- enforcement officer, he cannot be comfortable that he is not afforded the chance in open court to clear his name," said Maivha.

"The SAPS is being seriously undermined by the authorities' inaction following numerous reports of maladministration, scheming and the apparent unlawful dropping of charges against Mdluli."

Maivha called on Mthethwa to pay "urgent attention" to the Mdluli saga, warning that the SAPS could "plunge deeper into crisis".

Mdluli has been touted to be appointed to the top position of national police commissioner.

Both Zuma and Mthethwa have remained mum on the controversy.

Mthethwa's spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, stressed that the minister's role was to provide strategic leadership and that SAPS management was more than capable of resolving operational matters.

The PAC's plea came on the same day that police portfolio committee chairman Sindi Chikunga barred the parliamentary committee from discussing Mdluli, saying it was not the right platform on which to debate his fitness to head such a crucial office.

"I don't believe, not for a minute, there is much that this committee can do . the murder charges must be responded to in a court of law. This is not a court of law," she said.

Chikunga's refusal to discuss the matter follows a request by DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard for a special hearing on the Mdluli matter.

Chikunga said she found it "odd" that members had entered into discussions about Mdluli while deliberating over the SAPS Amendment Bill.

Kohler Barnard arrived at the meeting after Chikunga's announcement and could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Chikunga said it was not within the committee's scope to pronounce on any issues dealing with the allegations about secret-service funds as this was entering the intelligence domain.

Mdluli is alleged to have abused the police's slush fund to enrich himself and buy his girlfriends and family members cars and to rent them police property.

The Times reported yesterday that battle lines had been drawn between Mdluli and some of the top police officials in the country. He has accused officers, including suspended police commissioner Bheki Cele, of trying to block his ascendancy to the top of the force.

Mdluli - who since his suspension last year has avoided public appearances and communication with the media - shared a stage with Zuma at Workers' Day celebrations in Bloemfontein on Tuesday. He sat in a VIP section with other dignitaries.

Police spokesman Brigadier Lindela Mashigo said Mdluli was at the event on official police business, to provide assistance to the Free State provincial police commissioner.

"He is not a friend of the president and was there to work." -Additional reporting by Denise Williams

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