/ 5 July 2008

Cops obstruct Selebi investigation

Police and National Intelligence Agency leaders appear to be waging a war of attrition against the National Prosecuting Authority and the Scorpions.

Evidence at Jackie Selebi’s court appearance and at the Ginwala Inquiry suggests acting police commissioner Tim Williams and NIA boss Manala Manzini have instituted a campaign to frustrate the Selebi case.

Selebi’s lawyers last week tabled a series of letters between Williams and acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe as part of their unsuccessful application to oppose the postponement of Selebi’s case.

The correspondence shows Williams has blocked access by Scorpions investigators to crucial evidence needed for the Selebi prosecution.

In January and May Mpshe wrote to Williams asking him to facilitate the handing over of information in police hands, including:

  • details of alleged mobster Glenn Agliotti’s role and payments as a police informer;
  • police videos on which Agliotti is recorded;
  • information on whether John Stratton, the Australian accused of planning Brett Kebble’s murder, was a police informer;
  • the diaries of key players, including Selebi and members of crime intelligence, who interacted with Agliotti; and
  • Selebi’s travel records.

Williams’s responses are sarcastic and hostile. In his first reply, he said the request was so ”vague and filled with discrepancies” that it was impossible for him to assist.

”My willingness at our informal meeting to assist you with a request for further material related to your already instituted prosecution of Commissioner Selebi did not amount to a willingness to conduct a further investigation on behalf of the DSO,” he wrote.

”I was under the impression, gleaned from media statements issued by yourself and your media relations officer — that you were already in a position to proceed with your prosecution against the national commissioner.

”Your request at this late stage is unreasonable and I would not want to become a reason for or a stumbling block preventing you from commencing with your prosecution without delay.”

On May 27 Mpshe repeated the request in more detail, providing explanations for how each piece of evidence would be useful to the prosecution.

Conveniently for Selebi, Mpshe’s correspondence and Williams’s reply were leaked to the media and some of it was published on June 22, allowing Selebi’s lawyers to write to the police on June 23 asking for it.

Contrasting starkly with their response to the NPA, the police sent Selebi’s lawyers the full correspondence on the same day, including Williams’s second reply, also dated June 23. Selebi may have seen the response before Mpshe did.

In his second reply Williams lectured Mpshe on the role of the crime intelligence division (CID), emphasising the prohibition on the disclosure of intelligence sources and methods.

He complained that the CID’s requests to the Scorpions for details of their investigation were denied: ”In fact the [Scorpions] deliberately misled the division regarding the extent of their investigation.”

Williams does not acknowledge that he knows key members of the CID are considered suspects in the Scorpions’ case. Williams states that as members of the investigation team were allowed supervised ”access” to informer documentation relating to Agliotti and others, this should suffice.

He would not provide the actual material, meaning it could not be used as evidence.

The same applied to video material, including a crucial 2003 recording in which Agliotti admits to crime intelligence boss Mulangi Mphego that he tried to get money from Kebble needed to pay Selebi.

Williams declined to say whether Stratton was a police informer, as this would disclose the ”secret services” of the SAPS. However, Mphego is known to have boasted to the media of Stratton’s status as his agent.

Also for reasons of ”secret service” Williams declined to make diaries available. On the subject of Selebi’s travel records, Williams complained provision of these would be a ”monumental task” but he would do his best to assist.