Johannesburg – Former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and his co-accused and former colleague, Mthembeni Mthunzi, spent their first night in jail on Tuesday night.
They were sentenced to an effective five years in jail by the South Gauteng High Court over their conviction for a 1998 assault and kidnapping. Their application for leave to appeal in an attempt to avoid going to jail, was denied.
Earlier, Mdluli and Mthunzi had failed in their bid to argue for a non-custodial sentence as Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng insisted that jail time was the only punishment for them.
The two were last year found guilty of the 1998 kidnapping and assault of Oupa Ramogibe, who had married Mduli’s customary law wife, Tshidi Buthelezi. The court heard that Mdluli had threatened to kill Ramogibe if he did not end the love triangle by leaving Buthelezi.
They were found guilty of two counts of kidnapping, two counts of assault and two counts of assault with the intention to cause grievous bodily harm.
Judge Mokgoatlheng found that Mdluli and Mthunzi had egregiously abused their positions as police officers and abused state resources when they conducted the abduction under the pretext of being on duty.
He said he had considered both custodial and correctional sentences, as well as a fine and victim compensation, but found that the two deserved to go to jail because of the circumstances of the cases.
“We are dealing with two senior policemen who arrogated to themselves powers which police normally have, but these powers were abused to such an extent that it was devastating on the victims, and consequently the only appropriate sentence in the circumstances is a custodial sentence,” he said.
Judge Mokgoatlheng sentenced the pair to three years each for kidnapping, two years for grievous bodily harm, and a year each for common assault.
He ruled that the sentences for the kidnapping and common assault charges should run concurrently.
This means that Mdluli and Mthunzi will each spend an effective five years in jail for their crimes.
Mdluli’s lawyers indicated yesterday that he would petition the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal both his conviction and sentence as the court had erred in finding him guilty.
His defence attorney, Ike Motloung, argued yesterday after the sentence that witnesses who implicated him before the court, including Buthelezi’s friend who was assaulted by the two as they demanded the whereabouts of Buthelezi and Ramogibe, had lied.
On Monday, Judge Mokgoatlheng pointed out that officers of the court had had their characters impugned when they were accused of concocting and fabricating the case by Mdluli and his co-accused when they testified under oath.
“I have sat in this matter for about six years. There is no evidence that the State fabricated, concocted, embedded and cooked against accused No1 and No2. This court deprecates that and that is one of the factors that the law says the court must consider,” Judge Mokgoatlheng said.
Freedom Under Law, which had for years been pushing for the prosecution of Mdluli and which successfully challenged the previous decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to withdraw the charges against him, has welcomed the sentence.
“Today’s (Tuesday) sentencing is an important vindication of the rule of law in that one of South Africa’s most senior police officers has finally been held accountable for some of the crimes he committed,” the organisation said.
In November, Mdluli will appear in the Pretoria High Court to face charges of fraud and corruption relating to the Crime Intelligence slush fund.