SAPS to challenge Mdluli order

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Richard Mdluli. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

The SA Police Service will bring an urgent court application in the Johannesburg Labour Court on Saturday to set aside the lifted suspension of Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

“The order obtained by Lt-Gen Mdluli entitles the SAPS to approach the court on an urgent basis for the reconsideration and the setting aside of the order on 24-hour notice to Gen Mdluli,” said Brigadier Lindela Mashigo.

Mdluli made a low-key appearance in the Labour Court on Friday to challenge his suspension by acting police chief Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.

The suspension, on Sunday, came just months after he was reinstated as head of Crime Intelligence after being suspended while criminal charges were pending against him.

The charges were withdrawn, but when his reinstatement was widely criticised by, among others, the Democratic Alliance and the lobby group Freedom Under Law (FUL), Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa moved him to a different division.

The police claimed that the order granted to Mdluli on Friday was “either fraudulently or grossly improperly obtained” and said its lawyers were taking action to have it set aside.

“The SAPS is currently investigating how the court could conceivably have granted the order in favour of Gen Mdluli and in the absence of the SAPS, whilst the same court made a directive that the urgent application would be heard on Monday 4 June 2012,” said Mashigo.

He said the court had directed that Mdluli could immediately return to work, but that this was not necessary.

“Lt-Gen Mdluli will not be required to report for duty in any capacity until when the urgent application contemplated is finalised and disposed of by the court.”

The charges which led to Mdluli's initial suspension were fraud and corruption counts relating to his alleged misuse of a secret crime intelligence fund to buy luxury vehicles, and to hire family members.

He was also accused of murdering his former lover's husband Oupa Ramogibe.

All the charges were withdrawn in March.

The City Press website reported on Friday that Mdluli had asked the court to hear his application as a matter of urgency because the suspension continued to erode his dignity and this would continue in the weekend media.

Mdluli submitted in an affidavit that he was being subjected to “double-double jeopardy”, as Mkhwanazi was suspending him for the same allegations for which he was previously suspended.

He contended that he was not given a chance to make representations about his suspension, and was “shocked” when his attorney told him he had been suspended again.

On Friday, Judge Edwin Molahlehi said he was satisfied that a prima facie case had been made and that “in the absence of opposition from respondents... there is no reason to doubt the version of the applicant”.

The Democratic Alliance later said it was not surprised there was no opposition at the court.

“... Reports indicate that the lawyers for... Mkhwanazi were reportedly informed by the court registrar that the case would only be heard on Monday,” DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard said in a statement.

“There appears to have been yet another back door found to slip a (President Jacob) Zuma ally back into a seat of power.”

The DA was disappointed at the lifting of the suspension, she said.

“We stand firm that there are substantive reasons for Mdluli to be removed from office.

“Even if his suspension was procedurally unsound, these allegations must surely be properly investigated before he is allowed to return to work.”

FUL has brought a court application for the endorsement of Mdluli's suspension. It will be heard on Tuesday. FUL said Mdluli had until Friday to file replying affidavits, but that he had not done so. - Sapa


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