It’s been 10 years since the murder of Oupa Ramogibe and Crime Intelligence boss Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli – who has been on suspension for six of them – finally began to present his side of the story in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Mdluli slammed colleagues, the Hawks, accusing it of having a “war room” whose purpose was to bring him down, and the media for conspiring against him and preventing his possible rise to the rank of national commissioner of the police before his retirement next year
Mdluli and Mthembeni Mthunzi face five counts of intimidation, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of assault with the intent to commit grievous bodily harm and one count of defeating the ends of justice.
Led by his defense, advocate Ike Motloung, Mdluli said when his promotion to divisional commissioner of Crime Intelligence was approved, a former police provincial commissioner had tasked two members of Crime Intelligence based in Germiston “to look for any dirt against me, especially in Vosloorus, where I was working, and then they came across that there was a sort of an allegation I was being suspected of having been involved in the murder of Oupa Ramogibe”.
Mdluli said he had asked then deputy provincial commissioner of policing in Limpopo Major-General Berning Ntlemeza – and now national head of the Hawks – to look into the allegations.
“Why I did that is because there has been a concerted effort through the media to tarnish my image, and already I had information that who was doing that and what was the purpose, the purpose was to stop me from being divisional commissioner of Crime Intelligence,” Mdluli said.
He said he had chosen Ntlemeza “because I know him as a skilled person”, and Ntlemeza had found there was no connection between Ramogibe and Mdluli.
“It seemed as if there was a conspiracy against me in his findings, and he recommended certain steps, I think he was recommending to look at disciplinary measures because there has been an abuse of state resources with regard to that [conspiracy],” Mdluli testified.
He noted when he had changed his reporting structure to the national police commissioner – then General Bheki Cele – relationships between him and others had soured once they had been cut out of the loop.
Mdluli said he had been warned on numerous occasions of a conspiracy against him.
“I was the most senior among the Generals who were there, and until today, I am the most senior. If I didn’t have all these things which are chasing me left and right, probably I would have been resigning next year on May, going on pension on May 23 next year being a general as national police commissioner if it happened that I’m lucky that I’m appointed. But that chance is gone, my Lord, next year I’ll be 60 years, then I’m packing my bags and saying goodbye”, Mdluli told Justice Ratha Mokgoatlheng.
The background to the Richard Mdluli saga – according to a 2014 Supreme Court of Appeals judgment – begins with Mdluli’s arrest for the killing of Oupa Ramogibe on February 17, 1999.
The murder charges were subsequently withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority.
From about 1996 until 1998 Ramogibe and Mdluli were both involved in a relationship with Tshidi Buthelezi, wrote Justice FDG Brand.
“The deceased [Ramogibe] and Buthelezi were secretly married during 1998. Mdluli was upset about this and addressed the issue on numerous occasions with Ms Buthelezi and the deceased and members of their respective families,” Brand said.
“At the time Mdluli held the rank of senior superintendent and the position of commander of the detective branch at the Vosloorus police station.
“Charges of attempted murder, intimidation, kidnapping, et cetera, rested on allegations by relatives and friends of the deceased and Ms Buthelezi that Mdluli and others associated with him – including policemen under his command – brought pressure to bear upon them through violence, assaults, threats, kidnappings and in one instance rape, with the view to compelling their co-operation in securing the termination of the relationship between the deceased and Ms Buthelezi,” said Brand.
“According to one of the complainants who is the mother of the deceased, Mdluli had on occasion taken her to the Vosloorus police station where she found the deceased injured and bleeding. In her presence Mdluli then warned the deceased to stay away from Ms Buthelezi. The deceased was killed a few days thereafter.”
The trial continues on Thursday, with advocate Zaais van Zyl expected to begin cross examination for the state.