Minister: Selebi must go

Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa has requested President Kgalema Motlanthe to replace suspended police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi, an official said on Wednesday.

“[The minister] has made a representation to the president, putting the facts in terms of making sure that a new permanent commissioner takes over, to make sure there is control of the South African Police Force,” said Mthethwa’s spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi.

The statement comes after Mthethwa hinted in several radio interviews this week that he believed it was time for Selebi, who is facing charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice, to leave the police force.

Selebi will go on trial in the Johannesburg High Court on April 14 to face the charges relating to payments of about R1,2-million made to Selebi.

The state alleges that convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti, murdered mining entrepreneur Brett Kebble and former Hyundai boss and mining entrepreneur Billy Rautenbach and other “relevant corporate entities” made corrupt payments to Selebi between January 1 2000 and December 31 2005.

Selebi was suspended in January last year when he also quit as head of Interpol.

Last June, Mbeki—who has since been recalled from office—extended Selebi’s contract by a year.

Tim Williams is currently the acting police commissioner.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel on Wednesday said he supported Mthethwa’s call for the appointment of a permanent police commissioner, even if Selebi was found not guilty on the charges against him.

“During Selebi’s service period he failed miserably to reach government’s objective of a seven to ten percent reduction in crime,” Kriel said.

He added that he hoped the new national commissioner “would not be an ANC politician who is simply redeployed.

“The time has come that the SAPS is again led by an experienced police member,” said Kriel.

Meanwhile, Business Day reported on Wednesday that suspended National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Vusi Pikoli could take Motlanthe to court should Parliament uphold the president’s decision to axe him.

The newspaper quoted Pikoli’s lawyer, Aslam Moosajee, as saying that while there was “no final decision” on legal action, his client would not take being axed “lying down”.

“[Pikoli’s] name has already been cleared [by the Ginwala Commission of Inquiry]. Ginwala said some really nice things about him.
This is a matter of prosecutorial independence,” said Moosajee.

Former president Thabo Mbeki suspended Pikoli on September 23 2007, citing a breakdown in relations between Pikoli and former justice minister Brigitte Mabandla.

The Ginwala commission was established to investigate Pikoli’s suspension and in November last year recommended Pikoli be reinstated, although the commission found that his conduct held a real risk of undermining national security.

Despite the commission’s recommendations, Motlanthe decided against keeping Pikoli on. He said he took the decision to dismiss Pikoli because the inquiry found that the NPA head had given too little regard to national security matters.

“The report indicated that advocate Pikoli was not sensitive to the very important matter of national security,” Motlanthe told reporters in December. - Sapa

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