Corruption News

Court dismisses bid to have criminal case of Mdluli’s co-accused struck off the roll


Richard Mdluli Photo: Isabel Venter

Richard Mdluli Photo: Isabel Venter

  • The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has dismissed an application to have the criminal case against Richard Mdluli’s two co-accused struck off the roll. 
  • The application was brought due to delays in the matter by Mdluli who is reviewing a decision by police to not fund his legal trial. 
  • The high court has also ordered that the matter proceed to pretrial irrespective of pending applications by the accused. 

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has dismissed an application to have the criminal case against former Crime Intelligence (CI) boss Richard Mdluli’s two co-accused struck off the roll because of continuous delays in the matter.

Mdluli and his co-accused, former CI supply chain manager Heine Barnard and former CI chief financial officer Solomon Lazarus, appeared in the high court on Monday where the two applications were moved.

Advocate Awie Du Plooy for Barnard and Lazarus asked the court to strike the matter from the roll for his clients alone, citing that the case would not be able to proceed because of the pending litigation that Mdluli is involved in.

Mdluli has launched a review of a decision by the South African Police Service declining to pay his legal fees in the criminal case against him.

READ | Richard Mdluli wont be responding to State’s application to end ‘unreasonable delays’ in trial

Du Plooy said that Mdluli served the review application papers on the State Attorneys, and that the matter had not yet been set down for a hearing.

He said this process could take months and if Mdluli was unsuccessful with the review, he might even appeal the decision in the apex courts.

Du Plooy told the court that the delays had placed a mental and financial strain on Barnard and Lazarus.

Judge Mokhine Mosopa dismissed the application and said he would give reasons at a later stage.

State application to stop unreasonable delays

The court also heard an application by the State asking that the court set a date for pre-trial irrespective of any pending applications, interlocutory or otherwise.

State prosecutor, advocate Arno Rossouw took the court through the 11-year history of the matter.

News24 previously reported that some of the reasons for the delays included:

  • The withdrawal of the charges, which were later reinstated following a review application of the decision.
  • The matter was then struck from the roll because of issues surrounding classified documents.
  • It took almost three years for the documents to be declassified.
  • From November 2020, Mdluli then allegedly refused to appear in court on several occasions, despite being in prison at the time.
  • On 6 April this year, Mdluli brought an application to have Judge Bert Bam recused. The application was dismissed.
  • The matter was then postponed as Mdluli and his co-accused applied for legal funding from the South African Police Services.
  • The most recent postponement came in April, as Mdluli had not yet filed a response to the State’s unreasonable delay application. 

Rossouw explained that in 2020, Mdluli’s legal team made it known that they would be bringing several applications. However, almost more than two years later, none of those applications had come to fruition.

He argued that the court could not be held at ransom with application after application.

In making submissions about unreasonable delays, Rossouw told the court that Mdluli had received the outcome of SAPS’ decision to decline legal funding in January this year, but only filed a review four months later.

He added that some of the witnesses in the case were also elderly and that one witness had been in witness protection for more than a decade.

READ | SAPS will not fund trial of former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli

Mdluli’s lawyer, who did not oppose the application, said that a long postponement would remedy the issues at hand, but disagreed with an order that the pre-trial go ahead despite the pending review application.

Mosopa ruled that the case be postponed to 20 September for pre-trial and that Mdluli should finalise any applications he wants to bring as well as the review application on the legal funding.

He further ordered that pre-trial would continue irrespective of any pending applications.

The court, however, did not rule, as per the State’s request that a trial date be arranged and stuck to, irrespective of any pending applications.

Mdluli and his co-accused have been charged with multiple counts of corruption, fraud and theft relating to the alleged looting of a Criminal Intelligence slush fund between 2008 and 2012 when the accused were at the helm of CI.

These payments related to private trips to China and Singapore, the private use of witness protection houses, the conversion of properties for personal use, and the leasing out of Mdluli’s private residence to the state to pay his bond, NPA Investigative Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said. 

According to a scathing indictment, Mdluli also allegedly made sure several members of his family were appointed as CI agents and given vehicles.

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