Pretoria – The Democratic Alliance on Tuesday welcomed the sentencing of former crime intelligence unit head Richard Mdluli and his accomplice Mthembeni Mthunzi on charges of kidnapping, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and intimidation.
Mdluli and his former colleague Mthunzi have each been sentenced to an effective five years in jail.
While Mdluli’s application for leave to appeal has been denied, his legal representative has indicated that they will fight the sentence.
DA spokesperson on justice MP Glynnis Breytenbach said that until his dismissal from the South African Police Service (SAPS) in January 2018, Mdluli was living ”a charmed existence, escaping accountability for his criminal actions for years, thanks to his strong political connections“ and resultant protection.
“While it is now clear that a strong criminal case existed against him and his accomplice, the matter was withdrawn by the prosecution (through) Nomgcobo Jiba and Andrew Chauke under very dubious circumstances, and was later referred for an inquest after Freedom Under Law applied significant pressure. What remains unclear is why he was not charged with murder,” said Breytenbach.
She said in the scathing judgment, Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng described the “crass and criminal abuse” of power by Mdluli and Mthunzi, who were both senior policemen.
“The matter has taken far too long to be finalised, almost two decades, and needed an enormous amount of pressure from civil society and the unwavering dedication of the investigation officer to move the authorities sufficiently to do their job and prosecute the case. It is an indictment on the criminal justice system that he was allowed to escape liability for so long.
“That being said, the prosecution in this matter have done a sterling job in presenting a case that relied on evidence that was so old,” said Breytenbach, a former senior prosecutor with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
“The NPA must be given their due for a successful prosecution, albeit very belated. Mdluli very nearly got away with his criminal abuse of power, and it is very satisfying to see justice finally being done. He still faces charges in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court for fraud and theft.
“Finally the chickens are coming home to roost for Richard Mdluli, who rather pathetically claims to be too old and vulnerable to serve a term of imprisonment. This is not a courtesy he extended to his victims, and it is time for him to get his just deserts.”
The DA said the successful prosecution demonstrated the important role civil society can play in demanding accountability, citing the pressure put by Freedom Under Law, through a series of legal challenges, “in forcing the NPA to do its job, albeit reluctantly”.
Breytenbach said without the pressure, Mdluli would have continued to act with impunity.
“The direct custodial sentence confirms that our courts will not tolerate the lawlessness that pervades our society, and that if the SAPS investigate matters efficiently, and the NPA prosecutes matters effectively, then crime does not pay, and there are indeed consequences for criminal behaviour,” she said.
Mdluli and Mthunzi were found guilty in July 2019 on two counts of kidnapping, two counts of common assault and two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
The charges related to the kidnapping and assault of the late Oupa Ramogibe and Alice Manana in 1998.
Ramogibe was traced after eloping with and secretly entering into a civil marriage with Mdluli’s customary law wife, the late Tshidi Buthelezi.
Manana was kidnapped from her home and forced to point out where Ramogibe and Buthelezi were hiding. She took them to a house in Orange Farm.
Judge Mokgoatlheng sentenced the pair to three years each for kidnapping, two years for grievous bodily harm and a year each for common assault.
He ruled that the kidnapping and common assault charges should run concurrently, while the two for grievous bodily harm should run separately.
African News Agency