21 April 2024 | 12:22 AM

Mdluli’s gang of four under the spotlight

Key Takeaways

The inquest into the 1999 murder of Oupa Ramogibe this week revealed the mountain of evidence the state amassed during its investigation of crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

Ramogibe started a relationship two years before with Mdluli’s then-girlfriend while she was still involved with Mdluli.

Details of the police investigation — and specifically the alleged involvement of Mdluli and fellow policemen Colonel Nkosana Ximba, Samuel Dhlomo and Omhle Mtunzi in the murder — were murky until now.

In February, the South Gauteng director of public prosecutions, Andrew Chauke, withdrew charges against the four men and established an inquest to determine whether the state had enough evidence for a trial.

Fraud and theft charges against Mdluli were withdrawn in Decem­ber.

He claimed he was a victim of a political conspiracy involving his and President Jacob Zuma’s opponents.

Mdluli made a similar claim about the murder charges.

A 67-page statement by lead investigator Colonel Kobus Roelofse, presented to the inquest in the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, turned a spotlight on the large amount of circumstantial evidence gathered by the state.

Since taking charge of the case last year, Roelofse collected at least 39 witness statements, affidavits and interviews.

He also confiscated all registers from January 1998 to December 2000 from the Vosloorus and Dawn Park police stations to ascertain whether “specific relevant registers, books and case registers were missing”.

It appears from Roelofse’s affidavit that most of the incidents linked to the Ramogibe murder were not recorded and that relevant documents are missing.

The affidavit also gives insight into the relationship of Mdluli, Ximba, Dhlomo and Mtunzi, which was marked by a series of extraordinary promotions.

The fearsome four

Mdluli was with the Vosloorus detective branch from 1981 and by 1999 had been promoted to senior superintendent.

At the time of Ramogibe’s death on February 17 1999, the four policemen were stationed at the Vosloorus station.

Ximba became a constable (he was a community constable at the station) after Mdluli recommended him in March 1999.

In 2008, he was transferred to crime intelligence and in March 2010 promoted from constable to colonel — a huge leap.

Mtunzi was transferred to the Vosloorus detective branch in 1986.

In August 1998, Mdluli promoted him to inspector and in March 2010 to superintendent — despite a previous conviction for fraud and defeating the ends of justice.

Dhlomo was transferred in 1994 to the Vosloorus detective branch and by July 1999 he had been promoted to the rank of inspector.

In 2005, Ximba resigned from the SAPS but two years later requested re-enlistment.

Mdluli wrote a letter recommending it.

According to Roelofse, Ximba failed to disclose that, in 2001, he was investigated for possessing an unlicensed firearm, but the docket went missing.

In September 2009, the police’s Independent Complaints Directorate arrested Ximba after he was accused of torturing a complainant, Vusi Msimango.

The case was struck off the roll when witnesses failed to appear in court.

During his application for re-enlistment and for promotion in February 2010, while the case was pending, Ximba did not declare it.

Roelofse adds: “It is also apparent from affidavits in the docket that Ximba worked for Mdluli.”

The Love Triangle

According to Roelofse, Mdluli began an affair with Tshidi Buthelezi, then a schoolgirl, in 1986 and, by 1995, the two had a son.

In 1997, Buthelezi lodged a complaint of assault against Mdluli.

However, the case was closed a week later after Mdluli told the investigating officer that the matter had been resolved.

During 1997, Buthelezi began a relationship with Ramogibe while she was still involved with Mdluli.

The couple’s problems with Mdluli, Ximba, Mtunzi and Dhlomo allegedly began shortly after this.

Roelofse lists several incidents in 1998 and 1999 indicating that Mdluli was unhappy about the couple’s union.

He refers to witness statements claiming that Mdluli, Ximba, Mtunzi and Dhlomo intimidated and threatened Ramogibe’s family “in an attempt to convince them to put pressure on Buthelezi and Ramogibe to stop their relationship”.

Following these alleged threats, the couple went into hiding.

Between the end of August 1998 and the beginning of October 1998, Buthelezi’s friend, Alice Manana, alleges that Mdluli, Ximba and Mtunzi abducted her and forced her to take them to the couple.

The three were then taken to Vosloorus Police Station and allegedly assaulted by Mdluli, Ximba and Mtunzi.

After the incident, Manana lodged a complaint of kidnapping and assault against the three men.

Warrant Officer Joseph Israel was the investigating officer.

The registers seized by Roelofse do not mention the complaint.

Manana was then attacked at her home in October 1998 and a case of attempted murder was registered.

Israel’s casebook, dated January 1998 to December 2000, refers to the murder attempt. However, the docket was “disposed of” and the case marked “undetected” on February 17 1999, the day Ramogibe was killed.

Roelofse refers to an affidavit by Israel in April 2011 stating that the docket was removed from him “as he was not allowed as a junior officer to investigate a matter in which a senior member of SAPS was involved”.

The attempted murder and murder

Before his murder, Ramogibe was shot at on December 23 1998.

In a statement the next day at the Vosloorus station, Ramogibe said it happened after he left Ximba’s Vosloorus house and while he was driving Ximba’s Golf.

An attempted murder docket was opened.

Two 9mm bullet casings retrieved from the scene were not sent for ballistic examination and were allegedly destroyed after a police captain at the station issued a “disposal order” for the docket.

Roelofse says he found no indication that the casings should have been destroyed.

Dhlomo was assigned to investigate the case on December 29 that year.

It was closed on February 10 1999 on his instructions.

In a statement attached to the docket, he said he could not secure assistance from Ramogibe, witnesses or the suspect in the matter.

Roelofse says Dhlomo’s statement was not commissioned or dated.

Roelofse also notes two affidavits by Ramogibe, the first on December 24.

The second, Roelofse believes, was taken by Dhlomo on the day Ramogibe was killed.

This second affidavit was filed in the original case docket and the first was filed separately.

The first is not mentioned in the second affidavit.

It also fails to record the ownership of the car or that Ramogibe was shot at after leaving Ximba’s house.

Ramogibe was pointing out the scene of his attempted murder to Dhlomo, who had asked to see him, when he was shot and killed by an unknown assailant.

A murder docket was registered and allocated to the Germiston murder and robbery unit’s Lieutenant Colonel Johannes du Plessis.

In early 2001, Du Plessis submitted the docket, with another docket relating to the alleged theft of Dhlomo’s firearm during the murder, for a decision on whether to prosecute.

They went missing.

Du Plessis resubmitted the original dockets, without making copies, which also went missing.

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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