Richard Mdluli wants State to pay his legal fees
Pretoria - Former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli has been given a month in which to launch his application for the State to pay for his fraud and corruption trial.
As the charges against him stem from the time that he was employed with the State, he felt it should foot his legal bill.
This order was made by Gauteng High Court, Pretoria Judge Bert Bam yesterday. This was after the prosecution opted to not formally proceed with their application for an order that Mdluli finalised each of his interlocutory applications by June 18 so that the trial could go ahead on October 4.
This order followed a morning of hefty argument from the Mdluli camp, which asked that Judge Bam recuse himself from presiding over any aspect of the Mdluli criminal trial.
His advocate, Ike Motloung, made it clear that he and Mdluli were of the opinion that Judge Bam was biased and that Mdluli would not get a fair hearing.
While it is unlikely that Judge Bam will preside over Mdluli’s fraud and corruption trial, he was due to decide on the application by the prosecution to bar Mdluli from creating further delays in the matter and to ensure that he joined his co-accused for the matter to be heard later this year.
Judge Bam is retiring and not likely to deal with the main trial, but Motloung also tried to prevent the judge from hearing the preliminary application, as he and Mdluli felt that he would not receive a fair hearing.
In an argument which at times got heated, the advocate raised two main objections to Judge Bam’s involvement in the trial.
He objected to the fact that the judge allowed the media to record and film the court proceedings. Motloung said the judge gave the green light to the media without even hearing Mdluli’s objections.
The judge said he had previously issued a directive that the media were allowed to film proceedings in his court, subject to certain limitations such as not recording witnesses while they testified.
Mdluli’s second objection was the fact that the judge had issued a warrant for his arrest as he did not appear in court on a few occasions before the last appearance on March 26.
The advocate said the warrant was flawed as the judge did not apply his mind correctly when he issued it.
He argued that Mdluli had a valid reason for not appearing in court as he was ill. He said while the judge was informed that Mdluli was not well, he did not pursue this further before he issued the warrant.
Motloung opened his argument by telling the judge: “Can I ask you for patience to proceed with my application?”
He claimed when it came to the prosecution, the judge patiently listened to them, but it was not the case when the Mdluli camp posed arguments.
Judge Bam often told the advocate yesterday to “get to the point” after Motloung repeated some of his arguments, while the defence accused the judge of not wanting to listen to them.
The judge eventually dismissed the recusal application and said he would, within a few weeks, give his reasons for this in a written judgment.
Mdluli, who is already 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, was in court yesterday.
The prosecution earlier said his constant failure to appear in court could prejudice the right of his co-accused, Heine Barnard and Solomon Lazarus, to a speedy trial. The State wanted the main trial to start in October, but feared that Mdluli’s interlocutory applications could hamper that.
All three accused face charges related to the alleged abuse of the police secret slush fund.
The allegations include payment of private trips to China and Singapore by Mdluli, the private use of witness protection houses, and the leasing out of his private residence to the state to pay his bond.