(File image) Richard Mdluli. Photo: Steve Lawrence

The SAPS and the police ministry are maintaining radio silence over whether controversial crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli is in the process of being suspended.

However, Independent Newspapers understands an official notice to provide reasons why he should not be suspended – the first step towards suspension according to SAPS protocol – was indeed issued, even if it is not clear whether it has been successfully served on Mdluli.

The SABC reported on Friday that he was “off sick” with “emotional stress”.

A similar notice was also served on Major-General Solly Lazarus of the police’s secret services who, like Mdluli, has seven days to provide reasons why he should stay in his job.

This development came a day after rights lobby Freedom Under Law asked the Pretoria High Court to order the suspension of Mdluli because there had been, in the handling of the matter, “an extraordinary degree of lack of accountability and a breach of the culture of justification under the constitution which our courts have sought to impress on those who exercise public power”.

Analysts and the DA welcomed the move to suspend Mdluli, even if it was too little too late.

However, Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies said the police “have a duty to talk about what they are doing” rather than staying silent.

DA police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard maintained Mdluli and Lazarus should be suspended with immediate effect. - Independent on Saturday