Durban - Former KwaZulu-Natal police colonel Vincent Mdunge’s lawyer argued on Monday for him to be acquitted on charges of forging his matric certificate, which was allegedly used to gain employment at the SAPS - and a cumulative salary of R3 million over the years.
Mdunge, a policeman since the late 1980s, was the province’s police spokesman at the time of his arrest and resignation last year.
He has pleaded not guilty in the Durban Regional Court to fraud and forgery charges as well as a further fraud charge relating to his presenting his matric certificate to Unisa to enrol for a diploma in police administration.
The State alleges that the certificate bears the examination number given to Mdunge, who attended school in Hammarsdale, when he wrote his Standard 8 exams.
Official KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education records show he wrote his matric exams with another number two years later and failed.
In March the following year, he wrote supplementary exams, but failed those too.
Mdunge had insisted he had written the exams and passed.
On Monday, prosecutor Barend Groen argued the State had proved its case and had referred to Mdunge’s writing more than one matric exam.
“It is very odd” that Mdunge “wrote further exams after he allegedly passed. I ask for what purpose,” said Groen.
He also referred to Mdunge’s certificate and the discrepancies on it which he said were a “clear indication that the certificate was tampered with”.
Groen said Mdunge’s name and exam number were not entirely straight and that the date at the bottom of the certificate also was not straight. He also said the matric subjects differed on his matric certificate when compared to the June exam certificate.
Groen argued that it would be impossible for Mdunge to have been promoted to the rank of colonel without a matric certificate and said the former policeman would not have obtained income of R3.6m, even if he was employed as a “special constable”.
Defence witness Colonel Thomas Stewart, one of the founders of the “special constables” unit which Mdunge said he first joined in 1987, had testified that at the time a matric was a prerequisite for joining the force, but the criterion might not have been followed with the special constables
However, one had to have matric to become an officer.
Further, Groen argued that without a matric certificate, Mdunge would not have been able to write for a diploma in police administration at Unisa.
Mdunge’s lawyer, advocate Saleem Khan, contended that the State had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and that the State’s two expert witnesses from the education department had material inconsistencies in their evidence.
He argued that the claim by the department’s administration officer, Richard Chiliza, that it was not possible for the department to make a mistake was “nothing but ludicrous”.
He referred to his final defence witness, retired school principal Charlton Sibhaca, who testified on Monday that mistakes did happen, as was the case with his daughter’s matric results.
Sibhaca explained to the court that Mdunge’s exam number, which started with the number “83”, was not a reference to the year Mdunge had written his exams, but that of a “dompas number”.
Sibhaca said at that time, exam numbers also did not reflect one’s date of birth.
The second expert, Khan said, had testified that the department’s records were infallible, but also conceded there could have been a mistake as the results were manually transcribed at the time.
He argued that there had to be doubt in the magistrate’s mind and if so, Mdunge should be given the benefit of the doubt and be acquitted.
Magistrate Thandeka Fikeni is expected to deliver her judgment on October 1.