Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mdluli's night of the long knives

Mdluli's night of the long knives
GRAEME HOSKEN and CHANDRÉ PRINCE | 03 May, 2012 00:17

National police crime intelligence chief Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli has embarked on an all-out war to eliminate rivals opposed to his planned ascension to national police commissioner.

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Leaders' silence makes them part of the rot:
iLIVE The offensive - allegedly involving the Presidency, the Police Ministry and the national police commissioner's office - has involved Mdluli fingering his bosses as co-conspirators in a campaign to discredit him. Those bosses are suspended police commissioner General Bheki Cele, Hawks head Lieutenant-General Anwa Dramat, national crime detection and operational services head Lieutenant-General Shadrack Lebeya and Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mzwandile Petros.

In the past month, Mdluli - a key figure in the inquest into the murder of his former lover's boyfriend - has narrowly escaped criminal prosecution for abuse of state resources, murder, defeating the ends of justice, fraud and corruption. He was then controversially reinstated to the powerful position of crime intelligence chief.

Since his reinstatement Mdluli has gained more muscle by ordering the restructuring of the crime intelligence unit, including the incorporation of the VIP protection unit.

Yesterday it emerged that Mdluli, whom the DA has asked parliament to scrutinise, is now in charge of approving any application for interception of communication.

In response to a parliamentary question from the DA, the SA Police Service revealed that Mdluli was the only one with signing powers to authorise bugging of telephone calls.

In a strongly worded letter to President Jacob Zuma, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and acting police chief Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi last week, Mdluli claimed that senior police officers Cele, Dramat, Lebeya and Petros were openly campaigning to remove him.

The letter has created major upheaval within the SAPS, with Mkhwanazi, who recently met Zuma to discuss the saga, fearing the outbreak of widespread panic "as senior officers tear each other apart in war".

Petros yesterday blasted the letter and its author, demanding an immediate investigation.

"I will not have it. I will not be accused of such things. I do not know where these allegations come from and what they are based on," he said.

Asked what action he was taking and for comment on Mdluli's reinstatement, Petros said he had too much to do fighting crime in Gauteng to become involved in conspiracies: "I am not going to be distracted by this. You need time and my hands are full. When I am wearing my uniform I have to stick to the facts. Only when I take my uniform off can I have my own opinion.

"When the time is right I will respond further," Petros said.

Attempts to get comment from Cele, Dramat and Lebeya proved fruitless.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said: "We issued a statement on the matter earlier and have no further comment."

Mkhwanazi said he had been approached about the letter "in passing".

"I was never given the letter officially. At the time I had no idea about Mdluli's suspension or the reasons [for it]. The letter said the suspension was not based on fact but on allegations from a senior group of officers allegedly trying to get rid of him.

"My response was that the letter needed to be submitted through proper channels, like the departmental hearing [intended to be held into Mdluli's conduct]. Unfortunately, the hearing never happened.

"I told him I did not know the merits of the case. I did not want to take [the letter]. What was I going to do with it? People will say anything to protect themselves and I cannot say whether these allegations are factual."

Mkhwanazi said Petros had asked him about the letter last week, saying he wanted to take action to clear his name.

"I told him he was free to do whatever he wants to do.

'This letter's public airing will create problems. I already have a huge challenge getting all my generals to work together in the common cause of fighting crime - now they are tearing each other apart in public. The legal action by Petros could see other generals doing the same thing. You can imagine what this will do to our image," Mkhwanazi said.

"You don't talk about this in public because it creates panic. Writing about this will cause problems, which will be regretted," he said.

He declined to discuss his meeting with Zuma.

South African Police Union general secretary Oscar Skommere lambasted Mdluli's "abuse of power for political ends".

"This is a recipe for disaster. It is unfortunate that police are deliberately misused by politicians just like [under] apartheid laws."

Skommere said Mdluli's connivance within the police had created instability in a very important unit. He vowed that they would fight Mdluli's meddling in court.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, who put forward the parliamentary question yesterday, said: "While any officer of the Hawks, for example, may apply for interception, this application has to be approved and neither the head of the Hawks nor anyone in the Hawks (at the rank of major-general) has the authority to approve any such application to the judge.

"Mdluli is, as a result, in an extremely powerful position - hardly a position the DA believes he should be in."

Kohler Barnard said the "debacle" could have implications both for the credibility of the police and for national security.

She said Mdluli had been mired in controversy and revelations about his conduct had "damaged" key state institutions, including the SAPS, the Hawks, the office of the inspector-general of intelligence and the National Prosecuting Authority.

She had written to police portfolio committee chairman Sindy Chikunga requesting a special hearing on the Mdluli saga.


"IT IS war. I am cleaning house and will not stop until all the bad apples, regardless of who they are, are removed once and for all."

In a exclusive interview, acting police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi vowed to expose and deal with criminals within the police. He said nothing remained hidden in life.

"If someone is involved in something - be it stealing from slush funds or abusing police resources, and lies about it - those lies will one day catch up to you. I will prove that there are people strategically operating like a mafia and I will deal with these people. I will ensure justice is delivered.

"There are serious problems in the police, from crime intelligence, which has lots of things wrong with it, to a number of other divisions. I am on a mission to fix these problems.

"There were good reasons that I moved crime intelligence's generals around. I know who the problems are, and saw what the problems were and acted on them and will continue to act until they are gone."

Mkhwanazi said the extent of the problems became evident when he moved from the Special Task Force, "where we were often told there were no resources for equipment".

"Once I got to this level and saw the abuse of funds, I realised I could not sit back. When it is like this, how can anyone sit back and watch? Whoever thinks things are over and that I am done are wrong.

"Investigations are running. There is no quick fix but there will be results. It is war. A big war with lots of pain and we must vasbyt. Only those who are determined will see the future." - Graeme Hosken

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