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'Feel for me and my children': Former cop Richard Mdluli pleads for mercy

Former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli outside the high court in Johannesburg.
Former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli outside the high court in Johannesburg.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Former police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli on Wednesday asked for mercy from the court, pleading to not be sent to jail.

Mdluli made the plea during sentencing proceedings in the high court in Johannesburg.

Mdluli and former policeman Mthembeni Mthunzi were last year each convicted on two counts of assault, two counts of kidnapping and two of assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.

The case relates to the assault of Mdluli's customary wife Tshidi Buthelezi and her boyfriend Oupa Ramogibe in 1998.

Mthunzi, now 60, accompanied Mdluli to a house in Vosloorus, where they also assaulted Alice Manana to force her to reveal where Buthelezi and Ramogibe were.

Manana was then forced to accompany Mthunzi and Mdluli to Orange Farm, where Buthelezi and Ramogibe were found. Ramogibe was then assaulted.

“I know you have found me guilty. I am looking after the family,” Mdluli said on Wednesday, adding that he was looking after his minor children and other children from his extended family.

“I am asking mercy. I say: feel for me, feel for my children and feel for my family.” 

Despite the guilty verdict, Mdluli maintained his innocence on Wednesday. “Deep in my heart, I know the court has found me guilty, but in reality … it is not in the manner in which this incident took place,” he said.

Mdluli's lawyer Ike Motloung indicated to the court that after Mdluli was found guilty last year, he would apply for leave to appeal.

Mdluli’s testimony followed the presentation of a pre-sentencing report by probation officer Portia Dabishi Morudi, who recommended that correctional supervision was the appropriate sentence.

Mdluli said his case was not that his children would suffer financially should he be imprisoned, but rather that as a parent one must be able to take care of one's children - not only financially.

When asked what he did as a parent, Mdluli said now that he was retired, he was the one taking children to and from school, attending parent meetings and participating in school activities.

“I grew up in a situation where only my mother was the one able to get food on the table daily. I don’t want a situation where my children will be neglected,” he told the court.

Mdluli also said if he was sentenced to a prison term, he would be limited in terms of what medical attention he could get, as there were procedures to undergo in prisons before one received medical treatment. He added that he had a pain in his back which required immediate medical attention whenever it presented itself.

Mdluli said he doubted whether he could get that urgent medical attention if he were imprisoned.

Prosecutor Zaais van Zyl SC told Mdluli that the crimes he had been convicted of were so serious that rehabilitation to be undertaken outside of prison was not appropriate.

Van Zyl said a jail sentence was appropriate.

Mdluli disagreed with Van Zyl, saying he agreed with the recommendation of the probation officer, who recommended a non-custodial sentence.

Sentencing proceedings will continue on Thursday, when lawyers for Mthunzi and Mdluli and the prosecutor will present closing arguments.