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The SA Police Union and some ministers are fed up with crime intelligence chief Richard Mdluli, and are demanding a probe into what they see as a potential destabilisation of the police.
Sapu is calling for a judicial commission of inquiry into the state of affairs in the police while ministers want a cabinet security cluster to deal with Mdluli, who could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
Amid the ongoing storm over the lieutenant-general’s alleged role in misusing slush funds, hiring relatives and making moves to gain influence and control within the SAPS, the cabinet on Friday said it had not discussed Mdluli but had raised concerns over the state of affairs.
Several ministers who spoke to The Sunday Independent anonymously said they had informally expressed their displeasure at how Mdluli and his factional fights with his colleagues were destabilising the police service.
One minister, who could not be quoted because she could not discuss “internal matters publicly”, said some of her colleagues had told her that they feared speaking on their phones openly.
It was revealed in Parliament that Mdluli, as head of crime intelligence, approves police applications for interception of communications even before they go to the judge as required by law, effectively shackling the Hawks. Previously any police officer over the rank of major-general could be approached for such approvals.
Another minister, who also cited “protocol and fear” for not speaking publicly, said some of his “comrades” had become suspicious and distrustful of their own bodyguards because “of the Mdluli thing”.
“We used to feel protected, now we feel followed,” he said.
The VIP protection unit has been moved from protection and security services to the crime intelligence unit, which falls under Mdluli.
Another cabinet member anonymously said there was an “atmosphere of fear” and said it was “sad” when members of the highest authority in the land could not trust their police.
The Sunday Independent was reliably informed that as a result of the concerns, the Mdluli matter would be discussed at the cabinet security cluster. The director of the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa, advocate Paul Hoffman, said it was “a cover-up”. “It all relates to who controls the button to listen to people on the phone…”
Sapu president Mpho Kwinika said there was great concern: “Unions must make sure that everything – including his (Mdluli’s) department – is tip-top.”
This week, the Mail & Guardian reported that an ongoing fraud investigation by the Hawks had uncovered another “concealed police bank account”. It is understood that the probe by the Hawks has been under way for some time.
It follows earlier allegations that Mdluli misused the police secret service account to, among other things, buy cars and pay salaries for himself and several of his relatives whom he allegedly hired.
The police’s own crime intelligence probe and report on this said “it cannot be disputed, based on what has now been discovered, that significant irregularities have occurred around the tenure of Lt Gen Mdluli”.
The report, signed off by the then-acting crime intelligence boss Chris de Kock to the Inspector-General of Intelligence Faith Radebe, was published by the Mail & Guardian in March.
But Mdluli was back at work at the end of that month after corruption charges were withdrawn and the counts related to a 1999 love triangle murder against him and other co-accused were dropped in favour of an inquest, now ongoing.
Despite initial police statements that an internal probe would have to be completed before Mdluli could return, his reinstatement was accompanied by a one-sentence announcement that “this will not be discussed further in the public domain”.
Instead the senior commercial crimes prosecutor Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach was suspended for “abuse of power” after she opposed the National Prosecuting Authority decision not to prosecute Mdluli.
Meanwhile Sapa reports that a request to Parliament's police portfolio committee for a special hearing into the saga around police intelligence head Richard Mdluli was denied on Thursday.
Portfolio committee chairwoman Sindy Chikunga told the SABC that her committee was not a court of law and so it could not do anything.
“Charges needed to be responded to in a court of law...the portfolio committee can't do anything,” she said.