Raymond Zondo chides top cop Welcome Sithembiso Mhlongo over testimony
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Johannesburg - Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo had to continuously remind KZN top cop Colonel Welcome Sithembiso Mhlongo that he was a police officer and under oath as he gave evidence related to allegations that he plotted to oust former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Mxolisi Nxasana in 2013.
Mhlongo gave evidence at the Zondo Commission yesterday, where he responded to allegations made against him by his former colleagues Queen Mhlongo and Terence Joubert – who were then with the Asset Forfeiture Unit and an NPA risk specialist respectively.
The duo has alleged that Mhlongo was working in cahoots with former Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba, to “dig up dirt” on Nxasana to have him axed.
Joubert, who had shared an office with Mhlongo at the time, said that on one occasion he recorded his office mate’s conversation on a dictaphone he hid under a newspaper on his desk.
Joubert said that in the conversation, Jiba and Mhlongo were talking about digging up dirt on Nxasana to embarrass him and get him fired.
During his testimony on Thursday, Mhlongo denied Joubert and Queen’s allegations and accused them of manipulating his words to present a negative narrative.
He admitted to having had a conversation with Queen in which Nxasana was the subject, but he said their conversation was “in happy terms” as they celebrated knowing Nxasana’s mother’s maiden name was also Mhlongo like theirs.
“Queen even said we must support and assist Mr Nxasana. Now she and Joubert say they recorded me during that conversation, but where is the recording?” he said.
The recording has not been played at the commission.
Mhlongo told the commission that Queen’s affidavit was “all lies” designed to support the “untruths” in Joubert’s testimony, and should not be used at all.
In another issue, Mhlongo mentioned in his affidavit that he had come to know of Nxasana’s multiple properties in and around Durban as he knew Nxasana from a young age and they shared family relations.
Evidence leader Advocate Garth Hulley probed this after Mhlongo had earlier told the commission he “knew nothing” about Nxasana’s properties.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo told Mhlongo that he should not confuse things.
“Remember you are under oath and you are a police officer. When you had this conversation (with Queen), did you know where Mr Nxasana’s properties were?” Justice Zondo asked.
Mhlongo then told the commission that it was Queen who had mentioned Nxasana’s properties and that they spoke about it because she had mentioned it.
“Why then did you say you knew nothing about Mr Nxasana’s properties if in fact as you now confirm you knew about Mr Nxasana’s properties?” Justice Zondo probed.
Mhlongo said he only knew Nxasana had properties, but not exactly where they were situated. Justice Zondo reminded Mhlongo that he had also told the commission that Queen’s affidavit was “all lies”, and also correct “but taken out of context”.
“These are two different things. What is the true position? Let me remind you Colonel Mhlongo, that you are a police officer and you are giving evidence under oath. I want you to reflect on your answers,” Justice Zondo warned.
However, Mhlongo said that while they did have the conversation, the affidavit presented “improper context” and was being spun to corroborate Joubert’s version.