Saturday, May 5, 2012
'That man is very powerful. Lots of people don't really want to talk about him'
'That man is very powerful. Lots of people don't really want to talk about him'
Staff Reporters | 06 May, 2012 00:53
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA � JUNE 24: Suspended Crime Intelligence Head Richard Mdluli at the Boksburg Magistrate's Court on June 24, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Hawks arrested the lieutenant general in March on charges including murder and kidnapping, a decade after the crime he allegedly covered up. (Photo by Gallo Images/Foto24/Bongiwe Gumede)
Image by: Foto24/Bongiwe Gumede / Gallo Images
Very little is known about the man holding the key to the country's top secrets and now positioned to become the next national police commissioner.
Crime intelligence boss Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli has been in the limelight for 18 months, plagued by controversy - from exposing an alleged plot to overthrow President Jacob Zuma at the ANC elective conference, to allegations of his involvement in the murder of his former lover's husband 13 years ago and abuse of the police's secret slush fund.
Mdluli joined the police in 1979.
"When I graduated from police training college in Hammanskraal in June 1980, I came second out of a class of about 620," he says. "I still have the certificate."
Mdluli's early years in the police were spent in areas east of Johannesburg.
From police college he went straight to detectives, dealing with cases ranging from petty crimes to murder. Within a decade, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, studying for a diploma in police management while working.
In 1993, after completing an officers course in Paarl, he became a branch commander at Vosloorus. "There I worked under some of the best policemen in Gauteng," he says.
In 1995, he became a full colonel and in 2000, he was appointed area commissioner in the Southern Cape. "I excelled there. Please ask anyone. When I left, they were crying."
Next he was appointed deputy provincial commissioner in the North West before being transferred to Gauteng, also as deputy provincial commissioner.
Mdluli was head of Gauteng detectives when Makgabo Bernice Matlala, 4, granddaughter of Bernard Ngoepe, Judge President of the Gauteng division of the High Court, was found half naked and murdered under a bed in her parents' home in Lenasia South.
From Gauteng, Mdluli went national.
"In 2009, I applied for the job of divisional commissioner, crime intelligence," he said.
There was some controversy about Mdluli's interview process, as the then acting commissioner Tim Williams declined to join the interviewing panel, which included Malusi Gigaba and Nathi Mthethwa.
A former high ranking member of police, speaking on condition of anonymity, described Mdluli as a man with a short fuse.
"He may be of small build, but he has a temper."
He said Mdluli was regarded as a "devious, manipulative individual".
"Prior to '91 there was a time when he would shine the shoes of white police officers. He has low self-esteem and harboured a lot of resentment at being made to do that ... he always carried that secret loathing. He wants to be successful and his rise has been rapid, but he is loyal to no one."
Another police officer, who may not be named, said: "He is the head of the country's powerful crime intelligence unit. He is extremely dangerous, has a lot of information at his disposal and carries a lot of power."
"That man is very powerful. Lots of people don't really want to talk about him," said a station commander, who could not be named.
British security consultant Paul O'Sullivan said it was Mdluli who "nearly derailed" the investigation into former police boss Jackie Selebi, who was jailed for 15 years.
"He was behind the case against Gerrie Nel and he also threatened witnesses that I lined up. If I thought Mdluli would get the top cop job, I would have derailed the investigation myself! Selebi would have been a better incumbent. This guy will bring the country to its knees if he is appointed top cop. It would be like asking the mice to guard the cheese."
In November 2010, Mdluli's career took a different turn. He declassified an intelligence report which said that Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale was involved in an alleged plot with other ANC members to overthrow Zuma.
Four months later, he was suspended shortly after a warrant for his arrest was issued in connection with the 1999 kidnapping and murder of his former lover's husband, Oupa Ramogibe. Allegations of doctored case dockets and missing files were levelled against Mdluli and three other suspects.
Last September, Mdluli was charged with corruption and fraud around the purchase of two vehicles for his department and payments from the witness protection fund.
But in December the National Prosecuting Authority dropped both cases. However, Intelligence Inspector-General Faith Radebe continued her investigations.
The most recent allegations against Mdluli is his abuse of state allocated funds. It is alleged that his wife, former wife, his daughter and son and three in-laws were given high-ranking positions by crime intelligence in 2010 and are still in service.
He equipped his home in Dawn Park, Boksburg, with a R150 000 security system and furniture from a safe house and allegedly used safe houses in Gordon's Bay in the Western Cape and in Durban as holiday homes for himself and his family. He had seven Crime Intelligence cars including three Mercedes-Benzes, a BMW, a Jeep, a Lexus and an Audi while his son got a Golf GTI, his former wife an Audi A4, his sister-in-law a Honda Jazz and the rest VW Golfs.
In March, his year-long suspension was lifted and he was reinstated. The inquest into Ramogibe's death concludes in September.
The most talked about cop in the country, eclipsing Jackie Selebi and Bheki Cele tells us why in his own words.
On him gunning for the police commissioner position
"There is a media campaign and propaganda by those who think I will become national commissioner. Where they get it, I don't know. I will support anyone who becomes national commissioner. I never asked for that job. If it comes, it comes as a bonus."
Asked if he would resign in the interests of all South Africans given the cloud over his head: "There is no cloud over my head. There is a media campaign and propaganda. All this is noise, which I don't have time for. I just want to do my job and make sure the people of South Africa are safe."
Asked if Zuma was behind a plot to ensure he kept his job as crime intelligence boss because Zuma wanted him as a political ally in charge of police spooks to help secure a second term:
"No. There is no such thing. I am a policeman, serving the government of the day. If another government comes tomorrow, I will be loyal to that government. I am not close to Jacob Zuma or any other politician or political faction.
"How can people say I am close to Zuma. I didn't even know him. If you look at my track record as an apartheid-trained policeman, how could I get close to Zuma? I was appointed because of my track record, that's all.
"I was arrested and spent 21 days in jail. If I was really a friend of the president, I would have been released there and then. It's just a witch hunt against me."
Asked about Zuma attending a celebration with him in December and inviting him to the May Day celebration: "There was never any function in December that I or president Zuma attended.
"On May Day, as head of Crime Intelligence, PPU [Presidential Protection Unit] and VIP protection, I attended because I will go to any rally where my attendance is needed. President Zuma never invited me. I never even saw him there!"
Zuma's grip on spooks
Asked about the perception that Zuma was centralising intelligence functions under the control of a loyal ally by bringing CI, PPU and VIP under Mdluli's command: "That decision was taken while I was under suspension. I was informed about it when I came back on March 31 2012. The president is not involved in operational matters of the police."
Efforts to thwart the criminal probe into him
Asked about stripping the head of the Hawks of delegated powers that the position used to enjoy to apply to judges for phone taps, and the perception this created that it was part of a plot to shelve or compromise the Hawks investigation into him:
"The rule book has said for years that the head of crime intelligence must authorise interception. It can be delegated, and was to Dramat [as head of the Hawks], but the new acting national commissioner decided to make things more procedural, because there were too many irregularities in the past with delegated interception rights.
"If [the Hawks] feel they need to put me under surveillance for a legitimate reason, they can go to the State Security Agency to request it. It's the same as vetting. If they want to vet me, they must get the SSA to do it, not the police, and vice versa.
"People need to respect the constitution of this country. I went through the courts for a fabricated [fraud] case. People were forced to make statements. Senior managers in the police were raided at night and threatened with arrest if they didn't make a statement against me."
Asked about the murder investigation: "That case was investigated by the best murder and robbery squad in the East Rand, headed by Colonel Botha. They were objective and couldn't find any evidence."
Asked how it was possible there is no case against him when investigators submitted scores of statements against him in the inquest under way: "I really don't know how they got all those statements.
"I don't think Col Botha and his team were so stupid that they couldn't find any evidence if there was evidence. "Only the current investigating officer can explain where those statements come from.
"If they couldn't bring any evidence against me at my trial, even though they asked for more time and kept me in jail for 21 days, how will they find evidence now?"
He insisted that the murder case was part of a smear campaign, but refused to discuss who was behind it.
"I can't comment on this because I might still be called as a witness at the inquest," Mdluli said.
Nepotism and looting of the crime intelligence slush fund
He admitted to having several family members in crime intelligence: "I didn't make them join. There are family members - like any other police officer.
"There's nothing wrong with that because I was never involved in their employment process. Some were appointed in 2003 or 2004 - years before I became divisional commissioner.
"Let them go to HR and pull their files and you will see I had nothing to do with their appointment."
Asked if he looted the secret services account to fly to China on a private trip with his ex-wife at taxpayers' expense, as alleged in the leaked Hankel report, Mdluli said: "The inspector-general and auditor-general are investigating these matters and will report to the relevant authorities with regard to their findings."
By this he means to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, which will make a recommendation to the minister of police, who will then decide on the appropriate course of action.
"All I can say is there was no wrongdoing in this matter on my part."
Asked about a new R40-million secret fund that he is accused of looting: "It's nonsense. Lies. There is no such thing. I spoke to the auditor-general about it today to say they must investigate this thing because I want to clear my name. I know they won't find anything."