State capture: How charges were dropped against Richard Mdluli - 'It just didn't make sense'
Former specialised commercial crime unit head Lawrence Mrwebi deliberately dropped a 2012 case against then crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli to halt investigations into his conduct.
This is according to seasoned Hawks investigator Kobus Roelofse who told the state capture inquiry on Thursday that he had never encountered such a decision in his career.
In 2012, when Mrwebi was appointed to the specialised commercial crime unit, he was given representations by Mdluli to review charges of fraud and corruption against him. Roelofse headed the investigation.
Mrwebi maintained there was no evidence against Mdluli - who was put on suspension pending the outcome of the matter - despite the chief prosecutor and investigating officers giving evidence that there was a prima facie case ready to be prosecuted.
“It was strange. I was fortunate enough to be part of the Scorpions and I worked closely with prosecutors and I have never encountered something like this before,” Roelofse said.
“It just didn’t make sense to me. This was a deliberate attempt not to continue with the investigation. It was thought that if the NPA says to [police] the matter is closed, the matter would not be investigated further. In this regard, to me, it was quite deliberate to stop the investigation.”
Roelofse maintained Mrwebi knew exactly what he was doing.
“In terms of Mrwebi, he knew exactly what had happened. He was briefed by policemen involved in the alleged criminality; he did not consult with myself or the prosecutor in the matter; and therefore under those circumstances, I felt it was done deliberately to stop the investigation,” he said. Mdluli's suspension was lifted in March 2012.
“In the period he [Mdluli] went back to work, I was informed by crime intelligence members that he set in motion a drive to identify crime intelligence members who assisted me in the investigation. More than 20 members of crime intelligence were transferred within days of his appointment,” Roelofse said.
“On April 4 2012, he released a circular to all crime intelligence members warning them not to disclose information to the media and all bodies not authorised to receive such information.”
Roelofse said this amounted to intimidation and obstruction of justice.
Roelofse earlier testified that he tried to contact senior Tiso Blackstar journalist Ranjeni Munusamy three times in 2014 to inquire about information he had in connection with the payment of a vehicle registered in her name with funds from crime intelligence's secret service fund.
Roelofse said on Wednesday that R143,621 was allegedly paid into a WesBank vehicle finance account in settlement of a vehicle registered in Munusamy's name in 2008, when she was self-employed.
Roelofse said he had learnt of the alleged payments while investigating claims of corruption involving crime intelligence officers and a Centurion-based vehicle dealership, Atlantis Motors.
But he had misspelled Munusamy's surname in his affidavit to the commission, causing some confusion.
“I actually made a mistake in terms of the surname I recorded in my affidavit. I went back to my documentation, the vehicle in question is registered to N.Munusamy, registered to an address used by the same person at the time,” he said.
“In 2014, I did in fact contact [Munusamy] and I informed her of what I had found and asked her for her version and explanation. I spoke about three times to her, she then said she would speak to her legal representative. I never received any communication after that.”
Responding earlier to Roelofse's testimony, Munusamy denied the allegations. She said she was co-operating fully with the commission.
By mutual consent with Tiso Blackstar Group, Munusamy has been placed on special leave to allow her to deal with the allegations. She was not a Tiso Blackstar employee at the time of the alleged payment.
Roelofse's testimony is continuing.