Selebi's future under the spotlight

President Jacob Zuma and Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa will meet this week to discuss the appointment of a permanent police national commissioner, as Jackie Selebi’s contract expires on Tuesday, Mthethwa’s spokesperson said.

“That process will kick-start this week,” said Mthethwa’s spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi.

Commissioner Tim Williams had been acting in Selebi’s position while he was on special leave pending his court case on allegations of corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

Selebi’s contract was renewed last year by former president Thabo Mbeki while the former Interpol boss waited for his trial to begin.

Mulaudzi cautioned against assuming the end of the contract meant Selebi would no longer be commissioner.

“It does not mean that his contract will not be renewed. If he comes back, let it be,” said Mulaudzi.

The appointment of a police national commissioner was Zuma’s prerogative, as chief of staff in the government, he explained. Selebi and Zuma met last week, he said.

Presidency spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the contract’s expiry would be effective from the end of July and that Zuma would make an announcement “at his convenience”.

Selebi’s lawyer was not immediately available to indicate what he intended to do about the expiry of his contract, or whether he would insist on renewal until the finalisation of his case.

Selebi took special leave in 2007, when it emerged he was about to be charged with alleged corruption relating to his relationship with convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti.

He faced two charges of corruption and one of defeating the ends of justice.

Agliotti was also a co-accused in the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble, whose funds were allegedly used to pay Selebi.

Selebi made his first court appearance in February 2008 by agreement and without arrest, and his actual trial had been delayed by various applications and counter-applications relating to the investigation against him.

His trial was supposed to have started in April this year, but at his last court appearance in Johannesburg in May he was angered by the delays.

“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 at the time.

In a television interview earlier in June, Zuma said it was not good to have “acting people all the time” and that a “very decisive decision” would be taken when Selebi’s contract expired.

“It doesn’t give a good impression that you are dealing with issues seriously, so that is going to be addressed, and the minister is working on it,” Zuma said.

Mulaudzi said the appointment could be made within the next four weeks.—Sapa


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