Tokyo breaks ranks
Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has lashed out at the government's handling of the suspension of crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, becoming the first minister to speak out about the atmosphere of "fear" it has generated.
Mdluli was suspended for a third time yesterday when Johannesburg Labour Court Judge Andre van Niekerk ruled that a court order setting aside Mdluli's suspension be rescinded.
Sexwale said failure by the police and the National Prosecuting Authority to act effectively against those accused of serious offences resulted in the public losing confidence in the security services, the justice system and the constitution.
"There is concern about the evidence of political interference and partiality [to benefit] Mdluli."
Mdluli was successful in getting the same court to overturn his suspension on Friday in the absence of lawyers representing the police.
An agreement was reached on Thursday that the police application would be heard today.
But Mdluli, who retained a new lawyer, made an urgent application to the court to have the matter heard on Friday afternoon.
Acting national police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi's attorney, William Mokhari, argued that the order made on Friday reinstating Mdluli was obtained "improperly", and was secured under "grossly irregular" circumstances.
Mdluli was suspended two weeks ago after he failed to give Mkhwanazi acceptable reasons for the reimposition of his suspension.
He was suspended two weeks ago on the basis of information that emerged from an inquest into his involvement in the murder of his former lover's husband.
Mdluli is fighting for his career - he faces five investigations into his conduct when he was head of the crime intelligence unit.
The investigations are into, among other things, his alleged abuse of the police's secret multi-million-rand slush fund and the appointment of relatives to senior positions in the police.
Sexwale, lauding Mkhwanazi's bravery for acting against Mdluli, yesterday asked the Rhema Bible Church, in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, to pray for the commissioner.
Sexwale, who is expected to challenge Zuma at the ANC's national conference in Mangaung in December, was addressing the congregation as part of his two-day unofficial presidential campaign.
"Speak out when a corrupt policeman wants to be your commissioner. There's Mkhwanazi. I don't know him but this cop is standing up against the odds.
"Major people are quiet, but this cop says: 'If there's a corrupt cop and his friends are among us stealing your money ... then we should jail this cop'. Praise the Lord for Mkhwanazi," said Sexwale.
"There is something that we should lose ... fear of those in authority. We put people in authority and we get terrified of them. You fear an MEC, a mayor, a minister. You fear premiers, you fear the president ... we put people in power then we become afraid of them.
"Fear must not grip this land. South Africa cannot be reduced to a country of fear where we fear to speak.
"We have a democracy, a constitution, organs of power. Let's not be afraid to speak out," said Sexwale.
In an apparent jibe at Zuma's bid for a second term, Sexwale spoke about former president Nelson Mandela's decision to serve only one term.
"The authority above all other authorities is God ... even Nelson Mandela knew that the authority that he had belonged to the people. That's why Madiba stayed in public office for only five years," said Sexwale.
Mdluli's latest suspension was imposed as Corruption Watch and the Social Justice Coalition filed a joint application that they be allowed to join Freedom Under Law's court application for Mdluli to be criminally and departmentally charged and prosecuted.
Freedom Under Law wants the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to halt Mdluli's prosecution overturned.
Freedom Under Law's application is to be heard in the Pretoria High Court tomorrow.
Corruption Watch director David Lewis said that, to combat graft, it was essential that the law enforcement agencies were led by people of integrity, free of any taint of corruption.
"It is particularly concerning that Mdluli, as one of the country's most senior police officials, was allegedly involved in serious acts of corruption.
"This compromises the ability of the law enforcement authorities to combat corruption," Lewis said.