/ 1 February 2008

Selebi case postponed to June

Police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi was charged with three counts of corruption and one of defeating the ends of justice in the Randburg Regional Court on Friday.

He also faced an alternate charge of receiving an unauthorised gratification ”by a person who is party to an employment relation”.

Prosecutor Thanda Mngwengwe and one of Selebi’s lawyers, Fanus Coetzee, said he was charged by virtue of the case being placed on the court roll.

However, Tlali Tlali, a spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), said that Selebi would not be formally charged until his case is eventually transferred as expected to the high court.

”He has not been charged today [Friday]. He will only formally be charged at the high court,” Tlali said.

Selebi was not asked to plead, but another of his lawyers, Jaap Cilliers, said he intended pleading not guilty.

According to the charge sheet, a relationship developed between Selebi and Brett Kebble murder-accused Glenn Agliotti.

They met in 1990 when Agliotti wanted to enter into a business deal with the African National Congress (ANC) and held discussions at ANC headquarters while Selebi was social welfare representative of the party.

During those meetings Selebi allegedly said he was unable to pay medical bills for the treatment of his son and Agliotti gave him money for this.

Agliotti was appointed as a police informer with Selebi’s knowledge in February 2002.

Agliotti had in the meantime also proposed a fundraising drive for mentally challenged children, with the participation of the police.

Selebi agreed to this. During the fundraising period Selebi also allegedly said he needed money and Agliotti gave him money.

According to the indictment, Selebi would phone with requests for money and the money would be given to him.

Agliotti allegedly also bought clothes for Selebi, his wife and his sons.

When it became known that Selebi and Agliotti were friends, Kebble and John Stratton, a Kebble adviser, arranged to meet Selebi to ”buy his favour” .

Accounts were allegedly set up to facilitate the payments and it was agreed that $1-million would be made available to conduct investigations and to buy Selebi’s favour.

In August/September 2004 Selebi was allegedly given R30 000 by Agliotti to fund a dinner on his election as Interpol head.

Selebi also allegedly arranged to influence the investigation of Billy Rautenbach, also a mining entrepreneur.

Agliotti allegedly paid $30 000 for this, a day or two after Kebble’s death.

The case was postponed to June 26.

Lightning rod

South Africa’s embattled police force last month sought to reassure the crime-ridden country after Selebi was placed on extended leave in a widening corruption scandal.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) was under intense public scrutiny, even before it was disclosed that Selebi would face charges of corruption and defeating the course of justice.

Selebi, who denies any wrongdoing, is a lightning rod for those frustrated with the force’s inability to curtail a plague of murders, rapes, carjackings and house break-ins that have made the nation one of the most dangerous in the world.

President Thabo Mbeki had backed the 57-year-old Selebi until recently, when he put the police chief on an open-ended leave.

Acting commissioner of police Tim Williams and the rest of the police top management sought to assure the public that crime-fighting would continue in the absence of Selebi.

”The management forum would like to assure the communities of South Africa that the SAPS will continue to meet the obligations and responsibilities entrusted to us in terms of the Constitution and the South African Police Service Act,” the forum said in a statement issued by the Office of the National Police Commissioner.

”Policing will continue and members of the SAPS at all levels are encouraged to focus on delivering service to the communities to ensure public safety,” it said.

Williams was appointed acting police national commissioner following the revelation that the NPA was ready to charge Selebi. The police said Williams had acted in the post of national commissioner in the past, as had the four other deputy national commissioners.

”[He] intends to ensure that policing duties continue normally and that we remain focused on our priorities,” the forum said. ”We will communicate that the work must go on, that we must work hard and continue to serve the people of South Africa,” police spokesperson Sally de Beer said, without offering details. — Sapa, Reuters