South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO

Roelofse: 2,825 days of stalling on Mdluli papers

According to Hawks investigator Colonel Kobus Roelofse the thwarted investigation into former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, spanning several years, is typical of what is happening with other corruption probes. Roeloefse concluded his evidence at the Commission of Inquiry Into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in Parktown, Johannesburg on Friday morning.

This is a microcosm of what is currently happening with other detectives and other investigations, especially those dealing with corruption,” he warned.

This is not the only one. There are others.”

I am quite concerned about what appears to have happened,” responded Chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

For years, Roelofse was the lead investigating officer interrogating Mdluli’s alleged crimes, including fraud and corruption. Mdluli is accused of abusing millions of rand from a State Security account for his personal benefit.

On 30 July 2019, Mdluli was found guilty of intimidation, kidnapping, common assault and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm relating to an incident that happened in Vosloorus in 1999.

On Thursday, sentencing proceedings for Mdluli and one other were postponed until early November in the South Gauteng High Court.

The men’s convictions relate to a case about Oupa Ramogibe, who was murdered in February 1999.

It is alleged Ramogibe had a relationship Mdluli’s former lover Tshidi Buthelezi.

Mdluli has denied any involvement in Ramogibe’s death.

The paper chase

Roelofse described repeated (doomed) attempts from 2012 onward to declassify documents critical to the Mdluli investigation.

In mid-2015, then head of the Hawks Major General Berning Ntlemeza replaced Roelofse with a colleague, Brigadier Moodley, and within a month the investigation ground to a halt.

(In a previous article, we erroneously referred to Moodley as a General and not a Brigadier. That has now been corrected – Ed.)

In my opinion, General Ntlemeza has effectively stopped any continuation or progress in respect of not only this investigation but all other investigations regarding the alleged abuse of CI funds,” testified Roelofse in reference to Crime Intelligence monies.

Roelofse calculated the number of days during which different acting or permanent National Police Commissioners “did nothing” and showed “non-cooperation” in declassifying the relevant documents. His calculations were as follows:

  • Major General Chris Ncobo – 244 days
  • Major General Bongiwe Zulu – 433 days
  • Major General Riah Phiyega – 109 days
  • Major General Berning Ntlemeza – 944 days
  • Major General Lesetja Mothiba – 127 days
  • Major General Khehla Sitole – 968 days

Roelofse noted the days he calculated were “conservative” estimates, based on written correspondence.

In some cases he said talks of declassifying the documents preceded letters, so certain commissioners would have known for longer than the days listed that the matter needed urgent attention.

The days of reported passivity are highest at 968 days for the current National Police Commissioner Sitole.

Roelofse testified the need for declassification was brought to Sitole’s attention, yet little was done.

Without apparent reason

It doesn’t appear that anybody said, here is a reason why we are saying no to the declassification,” said Zondo.

I have not received any reasons as to why it should not be declassified,” replied Roelofse.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) discussed the declassification of certain documents on the secretive account from late 2017 into early 2018.

Roelofse attended the meetings, as did representatives of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

Roelofse sought the declassification of documents relevant to his investigation into alleged abuse of CI funds by Mdluli.

Ipid sought clearance for documents on more recent suspected theft from the CI account.

General Sitole made certain comments to the effect that he will apply his mind and he will assist,” said Roelofse of remarks at one Scopa meeting.

Sitole’s seeming commitment to help was short-lived, however, and at subsequent Scopa meetings, the tune changed.

They said it didn’t fall strictly within their mandate, it falls within the mandate of the intelligence committee and that’s where it ended.”

One possible answer as to why the documents Roelofse needed for his investigation, and those Ipid now seeks, remain classified emerged in testimony the previous day.

It became clear to me that the investigation did not only include General Mdluli and General [Solly] Lazarus. It went much wider than that. It included many senior people, not only inside the police but also outside it,” he said.

Transparency regarding the outflow of funds from the CI account would likely reveal further fraud and corruption.

Behind the blue curtain

Roelofse’s evidence agrees with that of former Ipid head Robert McBride, who testified at the State Capture Inquiry in April.

McBride detailed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between Ipid and the Inspector General of Intelligence.

The MOU addressed “the wilful lack of clarity on classification” and sought to “ensure cooperation between the two bodies, which have an oversight role over CI.”

McBride said a “litany” of cases involving CI were subsequently brought to Ipid’s attention but he knew of not a single case of successful prosecution.

Any request for information from [CI] is generally met with resistance,” said McBride, while testifying on 11 April 2019.

Political chess play in Mdluli’s letter to Zuma

Before he concluded his evidence on Friday, Roelofse read an astounding letter apparently signed by Mdluli on 11 November 2010.

It was addressed to then-President Jacob Zuma, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo, National Police Commissioner Major General Bheki Cele, and the Inspector General of Intelligence Faith Radebe.

The letter referred to “victimisation” and “abuse of state resources” and Roelofse confirmed the signature attached looked like that of Mdluli.

Yes, Chair. I am familiar with the signature,” he said. “The relevance [of the letter] was during the bail application.”

In the letter, Mdluli appealed for assistance and declared his political allegiance.

I was and still am a loyal ANC member. Given the above and my frustrations I humbly request actions be taken to resolve the issue,” he wrote.

Mdluli told Zuma and the others he was not involved in a “love triangle” related to the Vosloorus matter of Ramogibe.

He claimed certain police members from CI who were targeting him in the Vosloorus matter were also involved in politicking.

These are the very same CI members who were involved in negative campaigning at the ANC conference in Polokwane during 2007,” wrote the author.

They were in the camp of the former president and are now trying to take control of the intelligence environment within the police for devious tactics”

Mdluli mentioned the activities of members of the erstwhile Scorpions, and recorded questions he faced over his relationship to Nkosana “Killer” Ximba.

In the 2010 letter to Zuma and others, Mdluli claimed CI members loyal to former President Thabo Mbeki were trying to take control of the intelligence environment.

Once he read the letter Roelofse said, “From where I sit, it confirms the fact that crime intelligence are involved in party politics and are involved in the ANC conferences, which they are not supposed to do. It is not part of their mandate.”

Zondo remarked:

That letter, it seems to be talking to politicians about factional battles within the ANC and it seems to suggest that within CI or in the police are people who may have been in a certain camp in the Polokwane conference.”

It was not clear from proceedings whether or not the letter was received by Zuma, Mthethwa, Dlodlo, Cele or Radebe.

Either way, its author played into any anxieties Zuma and his allies may have had about Mbeki supporters, political foes in CI and the ongoing influence of those previously in the Scorpions.

Proceedings adjourned early on Friday, after Zondo mentioned he was not well. A day prior he spoke of having the flu.

Hopefully by next week I will be fine so I am sorry that we won’t proceed,” he said.

Proceedings are set to resume on Monday, 23 September 2019 at 14:00. DM

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