Johannesburg - The family of suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli say there is a politically motivated witch-hunt against him.
They were speaking as he appeared in court on Monday on kidnapping and assault charges.
The comments were made outside the South Gauteng High Court, sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, shortly after Mdluli and his colleague and co-accused Mthembeni Mthunzi stood in the dock.
They face five charges of intimidation, kidnapping, assault, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
According to the charge sheet, the pair are alleged to have kidnapped and assaulted Mdluli’s lover, Tshidi Buthelezi, her husband Tefo Abel Oupa Ramogibe and her friend Alice Manama in 1998.
“There is no way you can say there is no political ploy here,” said Mdluli’s cousin, Yabo Ntimane, outside court on Monday.
“It goes without saying that this is persecution,” Ntimane, one of about a dozen supporters who attended proceedings, said.
Without giving names, he said senior officials both within and outside the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had a hidden agenda and wanted to “throw mud” at Mdluli’s reputation.
However, NPA spokesman Nathi Mncube denied the claims and said it was the Supreme Court of Appeal that had ordered the reinstatement of the charges in April, and Mdluli’s lawyers would have to prove any such allegations in court.
Mncube also dismissed the family’s claim that they did not know what charges Mdluli was facing, as he said the NPA had served Mdluli with the charge sheet two weeks ago.
Mdluli declined to comment on Monday, but his family said they were convinced of his innocence.
Charges were provisionally withdrawn against Mdluli in April 2012 pending the outcome of an inquest concluded in November 2012 that there was no evidence linking him to Ramogibe’s murder in 1999.
Separate charges of fraud and corruption against Mdluli, relating to the alleged private use of crime intelligence funds, were also dropped in December 2011.
The case was postponed on Monday to October 7, as prosecutor Zaais van Zyl told the court that Mdluli’s legal representative, advocate Ike Motloung, was serving as an acting judge in the Free State.
Mdluli faces 12 counts relating to the five charges, while Mthunzi faces seven.
The charge sheet states that Mdluli and Buthelezi were already in a relationship when she met Ramogibe, who she married.
They then had to go into hiding when Mdluli found out about their marriage.
At this time, Mdluli and Mthunzi allegedly kidnapped and assaulted Manama to force her to reveal their whereabouts, the charge sheet says.
It indicates that Ramogibe and Buthelezi were then also kidnapped in late 1998, taken to Vosloorus police station - where Mdluli was the commander of the detective branch - and assaulted.
In February 1999, Ramogibe was shot and killed in Vosloorus.
The charge of defeating the ends of justice is faced by Mdluli alone. According to the charge sheet, Mdluli hid the police dockets relating to his alleged crimes against Manama and Ramogibe in his safe to “ensure that no further criminal investigations and/or criminal prosecutions would be instituted against him”.