BOKSBURG, South Africa — One of South Africa’s highest-ranking police officers faced charges yesterday of plotting with other officers to murder a rival in a love triangle, and then covering up the crime for more than a decade.
The case of Richard Mdluli, who denies the charges, is just one in series of scandals involving the police in South Africa where high rates of murder, rape, and other crimes are national crises. Questions about possible criminals within the force are now further undermining morale in the ranks and confidence among the public.
Mdluli, who was seeking bail at yesterday’s hearing, serves as the police lieutenant general who briefs the president on security threats to the nation. But prosecutors allege he threatened a man for a year “to stay away from his girlfriend,’’ according to court records.
That man was shot and killed in 1999, and Mdluli is now charged with murder. He is also accused of destroying the coroner’s report and other records to avoid prosecution.
Mdluli turned himself in last week, days after a warrant for his arrest was issued. Court records show an investigation was reopened last year into the killing.
Last year, former national police chief Jackie Selebi was convicted of taking money and gifts from a confessed drug smuggler and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. And this year, a government watchdog found that Selebi’s successor, Bheki Cele, acted unlawfully in making a deal to lease police offices from a prominent businessman.