Controversial former crime intelligence boss Richard Mduli was noticeably absent from the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday during the first day of an inquest probing the death of his former lover’s partner, Oupa Ramogibe.
Six heavily armed police escorts patrolled the corridors and passages of the building in an attempt to safeguard the welfare of witnesses under the witness protection program; most of which were members of the Ramogibe family.
This past February, judge Jurg Viviers provisionally withdrew criminal charges against Mdluli and his co-accused Colonel Nkosana Ximba court orderly Samuel Dlomo and Lieutenant-Colonel Mtunzi-Omhle Mtunzi pending the finalisation of the inquest.
The first to take the stand was Ramogibe’s elderly mother, Sophia, who gave a harrowing account of threats, rape and intimidation at the hands of Mdluli and his associates.
She said she first met Mdluli in 1998 when he came to her home looking for her son. Sophia said Mdluli was desperate to locate Oupa as he had run off with the mother of his child, Tshidi Buthelezi. They drove to her daughter Justina’s house in Windmill Park but failed to find him there, said Sophia.
Mdluli then allegedly told them to find him and bring Oupa to him because if Mdluli were to find him first “he would kill him”, she said. Mdluli found him first. A few days later Mdluli allegedly phoned Sophia and told her to come fetch her son at the police station.
When Sophia arrived with her younger son Mohau, Oupa was bleeding and his white shirt was stained with blood. Before taking the Ramogibes home, Mdluli warned Sophia: “Oupa will shit himself if he doesn’t stay away [from Buthelezi].”
Oupa continued his relationship with Buthelezi and was subsequently almost killed while driving Ximba’s car. He was eventually shot dead while in the company of Dlomo.
A murder case was laid and Justina was then raped. Following the rape, Sophia received a warning phone call that all her daughters would be raped and killed if she proceeded with the case.
The examination of Sophia had to be postponed to Tuesday after her sugar levels surged unexpectedly during a brief break. Justina also testified and gave an account that closely mirrored her mother’s.
But confusion arose during the proceedings. This after Justina only admitted to making one statement to the police whereas records show that there were two.
Mdluli’s lawyer Ike Motloung said this implied that police forged the other. Justina said “the whole family was living in fear” and she felt sorry for her mother.
Her mother had begged Oupa to severe his romantic relationship with Buthelezi, fearing he would end up dead, but he continued seeing her. They eventually married in secret.
During his cross-examination, Motloung indicated that Justina was misleading the court by making contradictory statements.
The inquest continues and Buthelezi’s best friend, Alice Manana, will testify along with Sophia and Justina. The latter three are all part of the state’s witness protection program.
This story was first published by the Mail & Guardian Online on September 3 2012.
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