Selebi pleads not guilty at graft trial

Former national police chief Jackie Selebi was the victim of a conspiracy cooked up by former chief prosecutors Bulelani Ngcuka and Vusi Pikoli, the South Gauteng High Court heard on Monday.

Selebi pleaded not guilty as his long-awaited corruption trial finally started.

Selebi, dressed in a grey suit, stood solemnly as the charges against him were read out in court.

“I plead not guilty,” he said to all counts.

His lawyer, Jaap Cilliers, told the court that Selebi was the victim of a plot against him.

Cilliers said Selebi’s evidence would show that Ngcuka, and his successor, Pikoli, plotted with alleged criminals to fabricate evidence against Selebi.

Cilliers said Ngcuka allegedly offered to drop charges against former Hyundai boss Billy Rautenbach—who recently made a deal with the state on tax-evasion charges—in return for Rautenbach testifying against Selebi.

Cilliers also alleged that Pikoli’s wife had received “gratification” from slain mining boss Brett Kebble. Cilliers said Selebi had warned Pikoli that he would be investigated for this.

After Cilliers read out the summary of Selebi’s defence, the state requested a postponement to Tuesday.

Outside the courtroom, security officials were keeping a close eye on curious onlookers, while journalists were lined up in the public gallery to file on one of South Africa’s most controversial trials.

Several police vehicles were parked outside the court with policemen and women lingering on the sidewalk and in the hallways of the court.

Selebi is facing two charges of corruption and one of defeating the ends of justice relating to payments he allegedly received from Rautenbach, Kebble and Glenn Agliotti, who is accused of murdering Kebble.

The investigation started in 2006 and Selebi first presented himself to court in 2008.

Judge Meyer Joffe warned the state during Selebi’s last appearance in May that he would not tolerate any further delays.

“Let there be no misunderstanding in that regard,” Joffe told state prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

The case was postponed until 9.15am on Tuesday.—Sapa


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