Richard Mdluli's lawyers put a fight to ensure he doesn't go to jail
Ike Motloung and Sabelo Nobangule, defence lawyers for Mdluli and Mthunzi respectively, in their trial at the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, came out guns blazing during their closing arguments on Thursday in an attempt to convince the court that their clients were candidates for sentences that would not see them jailed.
The retired policemen, now in their early sixties, were initially charged with a crime committed 22 years ago. Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng found them guilty, last July, of two counts of kidnapping, two of common assault and two of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
The charges against the two related to the late Oupa Ramogibe and Alice Manana.
The State proved its case - that Ramogibe was kidnapped and assaulted in 1988 for eloping with, and secretly entering into civil union with, Mdluli’s customary law wife, the late Tshidi Buthelezi.
Despite being found guilty, Mdluli and Mthunzi still maintained their innocence, and with pre-sentencing proceedings nearing finality, the case has reached a stage where the lawyers have a battle on their hands to save the pair from direct imprisonment, which is what the State is after.
Both Motloung and Nobangule argued that jailing the pair would serve no purpose “but revenge”, with Nobangule favouring community service and Motloung urging the court to consider a fine for his client because sentencing Mdluli to cleaning a police station, after he had once been the commander of one, would be harsh.
The closing arguments will resume on Friday. Prosecutor Zaais van Zyl was expected to argue for direct imprisonment.