Selebi fuming over trial postponement

Police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi was angry at the postponement of his corruption trial to October in the High Court in Johannesburg on Monday.

“Let the people have the courage to put the allegations they have to me in an open court of law—that’s why I’m angry,” he said after the trial was postponed to give the state more time for the investigation it began in 2006.

The state should not “run around and give excuses about this and that and files that are lost”, said Selebi, explaining that he had abandoned an original demand for outstanding documents that could help his case so that the trial could start.

Judge Meyer Joffe said he was unhappy about postponing the case for so long, but the court roll and availability of judges left him with no choice.

He warned against any further delays which made the justice system look bad and said it must go ahead on October 5.

“Let there be no misunderstanding in that regard.”

Earlier the court heard a tale of a missing “crucial” file and information declassified by the police which was given to Selebi, but not the Scorpions.

Selebi faces two charges of corruption and one of defeating the ends of justice relating to payments he allegedly received from slain mining boss Brett Kebble and his associate Glenn Agliotti, who is accused of murdering Kebble.

The investigation began in 2006.

Selebi first presented himself to court by agreement in February 2008.
He was supposed to have gone on trial on April 14 this year, but on that date the state insisted the matter be postponed.

This was partly so the Supreme Court of Appeal could rule on its petition to appeal the handing over of documents it did not think Selebi was entitled to. But Selebi had decided to abandon that avenue, the court heard on Monday.

His lawyer Jaap Cilliers said this was to start the trial and to give Selebi a chance to show “that he has been degraded by the [National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)] for improper purposes”.

But state prosecutor Gerrie Nel said it wasn’t possible to start because they had to find the missing file, which contained information on the surveillance of Agliotti by British police, and consider new information that was “dumped” on them at the start of the long weekend, as well as follow up on statements.

This concerned notice from the state attorney that some of the police witnesses they had wanted to interview were ready to impart information.

He said the NPA had had a “fight” since 2006 to get information from the police for their investigation.

Selebi’s lawyers, however, simply wrote a letter to the state attorney and were given “very secret information” that was declassified.

Only two people in the police, who are state witnesses, had the power to declassify this information, giving them the impression that their investigation was being hindered by those loyal to Selebi.

“Either they are loyal to him, or the accused is still in charge,” submitted Nel.—Sapa

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