Richard Mdluli. Picture: THE TIMES
Richard Mdluli. Picture: THE TIMES

After what the National Prosecuting Authority called a “long journey”, former spy boss Richard Mdludli was on Tuesday found guilty of kidnapping of his customary wife, Tshidi Buthelezi, and her husband, Oupa Ramogibe.

He was also found guilty of assaulting Ramogibe and intimidation of Buthelezi’s friends and family, and of assault.

Mdluli was a key ally of former president Jacob Zuma and alleged to be at the centre of the capture of the police services. He has since denied the allegations.

He was also found guilty of kidnapping and assaulting Alice Manana, the best friend of his former customary wife.

The verdict comes many years after the crimes were committed.

NPA spokesperson Phindi Louw Mjonondwane said the state was “satisfied” with the verdict.

“It has been a long journey for victims of the criminal justice system and victims of [the] crimes perpetrated by the convicted persons,” she said.

The kidnapping and assault are related to a love triangle. Mdluli’s customary wife, Buthelezi, had an affair and then eloped with Ramogibe, who was gunned down in 1999 while pointing out to the police where an attempt on his life had previously been made.

Murder charges related to Ramogibe’s death, as well as corruption charges, had been dropped.

But on Tuesday he was finally convicted for the other charges.

The saga began in 1997, when  Buthelezi — for who Mdluli had bought a house for, paid lobola for, and paid schooling for — started an affair with Ramogibe. Mdluli was head of the Vosloorus police station at time.

Mdluli was found guilty of visiting and threatening Ramogibe’s mother, father, sister and the mother of Ramogibe’s child, Lerato Seballo. He told them he would kill Ramogibe if he did not  stop the affair.

He also told Ramogibe's parents to stop their child from “going out with my wife”.

Death threats

He said: “I am going to kill him. He is going to die.” 

In describing why he came to conclusion he did, judge Ratha Mokgoatlheni described Mdluli as a “humiliated man” when his customary wife went off with someone of low standing in the community. 

“General Mdluli is a very important man and member of community. He must have been humiliated. Culturally we as blacks are taught to pay deference to our elders,” he said.

He said Mdluli must have thought: “Here is a nonentity humiliating me and having a love affair with my wife and to add insult to injury he secretly marries her.”

He said Mdluli’s evidence must be looked at the through eyes of Ramogibe being younger — being seen as “this small boy”.

He said he was not being “pejorative” to Ramogibe, but explaining power relations and how much more power Mdluli had.

The judge accepted the evidence of Ramogibe’s mom, sister, father and friends — evidence that Mdluli had threatened them and threatened to kill Ramogibe if he did not leave Buthelezi.

He said they experienced it and were not telling lies nor “testifying in vacuum”.

He dismissed the claims by Mdluli that the complaints by Ramogibe's family and friends were a plot against him when he was police commissioner 12 years later.

“Can he foresee he will be used as part of a conspiracy in 2011?” the judge asked.

He also accepted Seballo’s testimony, saying that after three days of intensive, vigorous cross-examination she never changed her version about Mdluli’s visits.

He dismissed Mdluli’s evidence that the case was a conspiracy against him.  As well as advocate Ike Motluoung’s claims that the policeman who took witness statements were “chief architects of a conspiracy against him”.

Mdluli was found guilty of kidnapping and assaulting Manana, who had signed the marriage certificate of Ramogibe  and Buthelezi.

Mokgoatlheni said Mdluli would have thought that “this Alice Manana is a veraaier … a traitor … who helped organise the marriage of Ramogibe and  Buthelezi.

“He was swift, sharp, abrupt with her,” he said.

He accepted Manana’s testimony of multiple assaults at a police station, saying that in one case she testified that a doctor had dismissed her injuries as not serious.

Had she been concocting evidence, she would have said: “I was half dead. I am surprised I am still alive.

“She doesn’t exaggerate it. She quotes a doctor that says it is not that serious.”

Charges against Mdluli of defeating the ends of justice were dismissed by the judge.

The case is set to resume on Wednesday to set a date for arguments on sentencing.

Mdluli did not comment after the guilty verdict.

He has twice had murder charges relating to Ramogibe’s death dropped and had corruption and  money-laundering charges  dropped twice.