Mdluli family are cyberspooks
Questions are being asked within the cybercrime unit of the police Crime Intelligence division over five family members of Lt-General Richard Mdluli working there.
The commander of the unit conceded in an interview with Media24 Investigtions that their presence had sparked questions from other operatives, but he insisted that the Mdluli family members were legitimate intelligence agents and doing “valuable work”.
Earlier reports have detailed Mdluli’s alleged role in the looting of the crime intelligence’s more than R250m secret fund. Allegations include that he ordered that seven of his family members be appointed in crime intelligence.
Media24 Investigations met the commander of the cybercrime unit, a colonel, in the presence of state attorney Kobus Meier, who handles crime intelligence legal matters. The colonel cannot be named.
Meier invited Media24 to a meeting at the Department of Justice in Pretoria in an effort to persuade us not to identify the seven Mdluli family members that senior Hawks investigators say he ordered to be employed in Crime Intelligence.
Meier admitted that the seven family members – amongst them Mdluli’s wife (a colonel), his former wife (also a colonel), his daughter (a lieutenant-colonel), his son (a captain) and three in-laws – were employed by Crime Intelligence in 2010 and are still in service.
Mdluli’s current wife, Theresa Lyons, has already been identified in several other publications. She worked in police stations in and around Cape Town and was employed by the Department of Home Affairs before she became a colonel.
Meier said he had no idea why the family members were appointed in the first place.
Hawks investigators say in a top secret report to acting police commissioner Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkwananzi that it cost the crime intelligence unit R5 million to employ Lt-Gen Richard Mdluli’s family members and supply them with luxury cars,
Meier said naming the family members would expose state intelligence agents and jeopardise sensitive projects.
The commander of the cybercrime unit said he employed five family members in his unit (he controls 12 agents altogether) that are specifically looking at so-called “phishing” cybercrimes.
These crimes include attempts by criminals to lure internet users provide details which can be used to loot their bank accounts.
The colonel would not say who the five members were, but said Mdluli’s former wife is not among them.
The Hawks investigators say in their report to Mkwananzi that the family members who were employed had no experience in IT.
They were supposed to start an internet cafe. Almost R100,000 was spent to train them and set up a front company, but the project never got off the ground.
The commander of the cybercrime unit admitted that the five possessed limited computer skills, but said his only requirement for deploying them was that they “should be able to mix with people”.
He says they were using their own names in their undercover operations and that naming them would jeopardise the success of these ventures.
When asked why they were using their own names rather than the pseudonyms more favoured by agents, he said he wasn’t sure why.
Meier admitted that the appointment of the seven family members may appear “suspect” but that he doesn’t have the information or authority to comment.
When the colonel was asked how he felt about family members being appointed as colonels while he had had to work more than 30 years to reach that rank, the colonel said he could not comment.
He, however, admitted that questions were now being asked within his own unit about why Mdluli family members were appointed there.
Mdluli and his family members had the use of 15 cars – most of them luxury vehicles – which was purchased from crime intelligence’s secret fund.
A BMW and a Mercedes was registered in the names of Lyons.
Mdluli himself had seven cars, amongst others three Mercs, a BMW, a Jeep, a Lexus and an Audi.
His son got a Golf GTI, his former wife an Audi A4, his sister-in-law a Honda Jazz and the rest VW Golfs.
One of his in-laws was appointed only as a sergeant and got a Nissan Micra.