Twist to Mdluli saga as SAPS fights for his rights

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IOL news jun 5 mdluli INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Richard Mdluli. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Richard Mdluli will have to wait three weeks before he finds out whether or not his suspension as head of Crime Intelligence is lifted.

But the spy boss’s bid to reclaim his job was likely to be decided in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday without him making any legal representation.

Mdluli will have an unlikely sympathiser in the SAPS, which suspended him for the second time on May 27.

The SAPS will fight it out with pressure group Freedom Under Law (FUL), which has filed legal papers to interdict Mdluli from performing any duties as a police officer pending the outcome of criminal and disciplinary charges against him.

In addition, Corruption Watch and the Social Justice Coalition have also lodged legal papers to join FUL’s application as amici curiae, or friends of the court, on an advisory basis.

FUL lodged its application after Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa reinstated Mdluli on March 31, following the withdrawal of criminal and disciplinary charges against him.

Mdluli was then moved to the intelligence operatives division before acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi suspended him on May 27.

Mdluli was suspended pending the outcome of an inquest into the death of his ex-girlfriend’s husband, Oupa Ramogibe.

Despite this, FUL pressed ahead with legal action to stop Mdluli serving as a police officer. In its founding affidavit on May 15, FUL argued the way in which the Mdluli matter had been dealt with was “partial and selective”, and reflected “an extraordinary degree of a lack of accountability”.

The organisation said the withdrawal of criminal and disciplinary charges against Mdluli was “unlawful and unconstitutional”.

Dr Mamphela Ramphele is listed as a deponent (witness) in FUL’s founding affidavit.

In correspondence with the SAPS that The Star has seen, FUL cited, among others, statements by Mdluli’s attorney, Ike Motloung, denying that his client (Mdluli) had been notified formally of his suspension.

The possibility that Mdluli’s suspension could be withdrawn before the finalisation of the organisation’s court application also played a role in FUL going ahead with its application.

In turn, the SAPS argued that the granting of an interim order could set a dangerous precedent.

The SAPS said an order would interfere with the employer-employee relationship and contravene labour laws.

“There is due process, which is imperative for the SAPS to follow before it suspends any of its employees,” read the court papers.

“Section 23 of the constitution… provides that everyone has the right to fair labour practices. (Mdluli), as an employee of the SAPS, enjoys protection in terms of this section and is entitled to fair labour practices,” the police said in papers before court.

The SAPS further contended that FUL had lodged its legal papers with the awareness that Mdluli – before his suspension on May 27 – had been served with a notice of an intention to suspend on May 15.

But FUL argued that Mdluli’s reinstatement undermined the morale of other police officers in their efforts to effectively prevent and combat crime.

On Monday, the Johannesburg Labour Court set down June 21 as the date for the hearing into Mdluli’s application challenging his suspension.

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