Lawrence Mrwebi defends his decision to drop fraud charges against Richard Mdluli
This is despite the chief prosecutor and the investigating officers testifying that there was a prima facie case which was ready to be prosecuted in 2012
Suspended head of the specialised commercial crime unit Lawrence Mrwebi on Tuesday said there was no evidence that former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli was implicated in fraud and corruption.
This is despite the chief prosecutor and the investigating officers in the case giving evidence that there was a prima facie case which was ready to be prosecuted in 2012.
Mrwebi took the stand to give his evidence in chief to the Mokgoro commission of inquiry that is looking into his fitness to hold office in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The inquiry is also looking into the fitness to hold office of his suspended colleague, deputy national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba.
Mrwebi had just been appointed head of the specialised commercial crime unit in 2011, when he was furnished with representations by Mdluli to review the charges of fraud and corruption against him.
One of the main allegations against him was that he dropped the charges against Mdluli without consulting the then director of public prosecutions in North Gauteng Sibongile Mzinyathi.
Responding to that allegation, Mrwebi said he had a meeting with Mzinyathi on December 5 2011, in which they discussed the case. He said he considered that meeting as consulting Mzinyathi on the matter. Taking a decision of this nature in consultation with the director was however required by law.
Mdluli, a strong ally of former president Jacob Zuma, is alleged to have been a key cog in the state capture project.
Mrwebi defended his decision to drop the charges against Mdluli, saying further investigation was needed.
He said he made the decision based on facts and the law. He said he had no reason to favour anyone.
“The fact that a person at some point in time might be hated, is not my concern,” Mrwebi said.
However, according to a handwritten note by Mrwebi, which has been presented as evidence before the commission, he merely raised the issue of the mandate of the police to investigate the matter. The merits of the case was not an issue in the note.
The charges originated from the alleged unlawful use of funds from the crime intelligence unit’s secret service account, which was alleged to have benefited Mdluli and his wife.
It was alleged that some vehicles bought by the unit were registered in Mdluli’s wife’s name.