Pretoria - It is more than a decade since former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli was arrested on charges of fraud, corruption and theft relating to the SAPS secret slush fund.
Yet the trial has yet to get under way, and Mdluli is, according to the State, mostly to blame for the delay.
The investigative directorate said in an affidavit before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that his constant failure to appear in court and his numerous interlocutory applications were resulting in the matter being dragged out.
It was also unfair towards the rights of his co-accused, Heine Barnard and Solomon Lazarus, who had appeared in court numerous times, only to have the matter postponed time and again.
The trio appeared in court again a yesterday where Judge Papi Mosopa was due to hear two applications – one by the State and the other by Mdluli’s co-accused – for the judge to put his foot down for further delays and to order that the trial had to proceed as soon as possible.
It is stated in an affidavit by Mark McLean of the Priority Crime Investigation unit of the SAPS that this matter had been dragging its heels for 11 years, and has a long litigation history. One of the consequences of the long delay is that one of the State witnesses and his family has had to remain under the witness protection programme since 2011.
To date, he has not yet taken the stand and the accused have not even pleaded to the array of charges against them. McLean said the previous delays in the matter could be attributed to various reasons; it was submitted that the delays since October 2020 could only be attributed to Mdluli.
This included that he applied for legal funding from the police, as he said the charges relate to the time that he was in the employment of the SAPS.
The police have refused his application for state funding of his defence, as they reasoned that the charges he was facing had nothing to do with them.
The Mdluli camp subsequently mentioned that it would take the SAPS’s refusal for review before the court, but to date no such application has been filed.
The refusal of Mdluli to pitch in court on several occasions also caused delays in the trial getting under way.
Judge Bert Bam, who is now retired but who was earlier seized with this matter, had to issue a warrant for Mdluli’s arrest (although he was in jail) before Mdluli eventually pitched in court.
McLean said in his affidavit it was in the interest of justice that the trial started as witnesses were getting older and would be required to testify about occurrences that happened more than 11 years ago.
While his co-accused are out on warnings, Mdluli is facing the trial behind bars as he is serving a five-year jail term for the assault and kidnapping of his former lover Tshidi Buthelezi and two others following an incident in 1998.
The application yesterday before Judge Mosopa to rule that no further unreasonable delays would be tolerated has been postponed to June 20.