/ 22 January 2009

Crime intelligence boss in court over Selebi affidavit

Acting crime intelligence head Mulangi Mphego appeared in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday charged with defeating the ends of justice, according to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

”He was warned by the Scorpions to appear in court today [Thursday]. He handed himself over this morning,” said NPA spokesman Tlali Tlali.

Mphego is accused of being involved in the production of an affidavit by drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti which absolved his friend, suspended police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi, of wrongdoing.

The case was postponed for further investigation and Mphego was warned to appear in the court again on March 3.

Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa noted ”with deep concern” Mphego’s ”unfortunate” court appearance and said he took the allegations against Mphego seriously.

”I remain determined to take the necessary steps on any matter that affect the standing and integrity of the South African Police Service,” he said in a statement.

”Upon receipt of further information, I will duly pronounce on further steps to be taken.”

The Agliotti affidavit was filed with the Pretoria High Court in January last year in support of Selebi’s failed urgent application to stop the NPA from proceeding with its prosecution against him.

It contradicted a previous statement made while Agliotti was in custody in Sandton over the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble.

In that statement Agliotti detailed, among other things, money and gifts he had given Selebi. He then went on to deny ever bribing Selebi in his January 4 statement.

In the four-page January 4 affidavit, Agliotti claimed the Scorpions were out to tarnish his reputation while also trying to discredit Selebi in order to destabilise the country.

Selebi used the affidavit to argue that the Scorpions’s corruption investigation against him was malicious and in bad faith.

However, Agliotti retracted the sworn statement just days later, claiming he was drunk at the time and was misled into signing it.

In yet another statement, made on January 10, he contended that he signed the January 4 statement at a meeting with the director-general of National Intelligence Manala Manzini and Mphego at the Balalaika hotel in Sandton, believing it would help secure him indemnity in his pending criminal matters.

He claimed he was presented with the typed statement on a laptop, but did not read it and was led to believe it would never be made public.

Although the affidavit was in his own handwriting, he could not decipher what he meant, it was made without an opportunity to consult his lawyers, and it contained factual errors, he alleged.

The Scorpions’s Gauteng head Gerrie Nel obtained an arrest warrant for Selebi from the Randburg Magistrate’s Court in September 2007 for alleged corruption, fraud, racketeering and defeating the ends of justice.

However, then acting director for Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe had the arrest warrant cancelled later that month after taking over from former NPA boss Vusi Pikoli.

On February 1 last year, Selebi was formally charged in the Randburg Regional Court with three counts of corruption and one of defeating the ends of justice.

He faces an alternate charge of receiving an unauthorised gratification ”by a person who is party to an employment relationship”.

His trial has been set down from April 14 to June 19 in the Johannesburg High Court. — Sapa