Former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli has been acquitted on four intimidation charges at the High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.
His acquittal relates to a Constitutional Court judgment handed down on October 22, which found that sections of the Intimidation Act were unconstitutional, as they limited the right to freedom of expression.
The state argued that this ruling “has a profound effect” on the status of his intimidation convictions, and had “drawn a line” through them.
State advocate Zaais van Zyl and Mdluli’s personal advocate, Ike Motloung, both successfully argued that the ConCourt judgment forces an acquittal on the charges.
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng postponed sentencing to February 3, 2020, after acquitting Mdluli on the charges. He is still guilty of assault and kidnapping.
On July 30, the High Court in Johannesburg found Mdluli and his co-accused, Mthembeni Mthunzi, guilty of assault, intimidation, and kidnapping.
The judgment relates to a 1999 kidnapping case, with the pair charged with the kidnapping of Oupa Ramogibe in 1999.
Both accused faced allegations that they intimidated, assaulted, and kidnapped Ramogibe, who was Mdluli’s love rival, two decades ago. The pair also allegedly assaulted Alice Manana, a friend of Tshidi Buthelezi, who was Mdluli’s customary wife.
Ramogibe and Buthelezi secretly married in July, 1998. A year later, Ramogibe was shot dead.
However, charges of murder against Mdluli and Mthunzi were withdrawn.
The remaining cases against the accused have dragged on for years. During that time, Buthelezi succumbed to an illness. She died in 2003.
In the ConCourt judgment that led to Mdluli’s acquittal on the intimidation charges handed down by Justice Leona Theron, the court found that Sections 1(1)(b) and 1(2) of the Intimidation Act 72 of 1982 limited freedom of expression and that Section 1(2) of the Act created a reverse onus.
The case was brought by General Alfred Moyo, an activist of the Macodefo civic structure in the Makause informal settlement on the East Rand, represented by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI).
His criminal case dates back to 2012, when police accused him of intimidation after – according to Moyo – Primrose police attempted to prevent a march by the Makause residents against police brutality.
Before the march started, a meeting between Moyo and the police was held in which Moyo and his colleagues criticised the police.
“Moyo is accused of making statements that caused the station commander and her armed colleagues to fear for their [lives],” said Macodefo and Right 2 Know (R2K), who joined the case as friends of the court.
The intimidation charge, they argued, was an attempt to silence Moyo.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, News24 Wire)