Mdluli to be redeployed
POLITICAL pressure from senior ANC officials, and concerns by cabinet ministers, led to yesterday's surprise removal from office of controversial police spy boss Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa announced the temporary demotion of the crime intelligence boss yesterday.
Mthethwa told parliament during his police budget speech that the decision was taken jointly by him and acting national police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.
But, it can be revealed that concerns raised by senior ANC politicians, and threats by some within police crime intelligence to resign, led to yesterday's decision.
Mdluli, who attended the parliamentary session, put on a brave face as the decision was announced.
"I am happy; I'm a policeman, I can work anywhere," Mdluli said smiling.
This week Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula revealed that when he was deputy police minister he suspected that his phone was being bugged.
He said that when he questioned Mdluli about it, the spy boss denied it. But he later discovered that Mdluli, in a report to President Jacob Zuma, listed him as being part of a plot to unseat Zuma.
Yesterday it was reported that an "explosive" affidavit by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale about Mdluli was one of the items stolen from Sexwale's lawyer's home during a burglary.
However two senior government officials, who did not want to be named, said Mdluli's removal was "just a ploy to divert attention from the security and political mess Mdluli has created".
"If they are serious about resolving this matter, why are they not suspending him? Why shift him to another division?
"Mdluli must be taken out of the police if the suspicion of him being protected by [people in] high office is to be removed.
"Most of us remain convinced that Mdluli is there to safeguard a political project. The announcement that he is being shifted is nothing but a game."
A senior ANC official said the latest tactic was a ploy to "buy time".
"But we are not letting go; pressure must bear on him until his masters come out."
But Mthethwa's spokesman Zweli Mnisi denied that the decision to reassign Mdluli was political, insisting it was based on discussions between Mthethwa and Mkhwanazi.
Mnisi said the decision was taken after the recent rows between senior police managers which were sparked by the "widely reported" letter written by Mdluli pledging his support to Zuma.
In the letter Mdluli pledged to politically support Zuma in his bid for re-election at the ruling party's conference in Mangaung in December.
In parliament, Mthethwa said: "There have been unfortunate public accusations and counter-accusations within police management which were sparked by a letter reportedly written by Mdluli to, among others, the police minister.
"The letter seems to have political connotations and has caused tension within police management, alluding to some conspiracy theory of some within management ganging up against him."
Mthethwa said the state law adviser would lead a team to investigate Mdluli's letter, in which he alleged there was a conspiracy by senior police officers to oust him.
"This team is specifically investigating the letter and not financial mismanagement and alleged nepotism within crime intelligence, which is being looked at by the inspector-general for intelligence," he said.
Mkhwanazi said Mdluli's removal was "part of my clean-up, which is only at its beginning".
"While it is a temporary movement, he will no longer be in command of any division," he said. "What will happen to him will be decided by departmental matters, including investigations, which are currently under way."
Asked if more officers would be shifted, Mkhwanazi said: "There are those, who if they still need to be dealt with, will be dealt with."
Mnisi said: "We do not shift people through a carte blanche or one-size-fits-all approach. Each case is independently handled to ensure fairness."
Mkhwanazi confirmed he would take control of the crime intelligence division.
At least three officers who worked under Mdluli before he was suspended in April last year said that more than a dozen experienced crime intelligence officers had applied for transfers after hearing that he would command them again.
The unhappiness in the police is not confined to the spy unit - cracks are showing in other specialised units.
Senior members of the organised crime unit, including from the Hawks and from the commercial crimes unit, have threatened to resign.
SA Police Service Union general secretary Oscar Skommere welcomed Mdluli's transfer but said it was not enough.
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