Tales of skulduggery at Selebi trial

Former president Nelson Mandela’s tailor Yusuf Surtee allegedly paid former police informant Paul Stemmet to ‘plant drugs” at the Cape Town home of a person Surtee had ‘a problem with”.

This was brought to the attention of the South Gauteng High Court by former police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi’s senior counsel, Jaap Cilliers, during cross-examination of drug-lord Glenn Agliotti on Tuesday.

Cilliers, who was questioning Agliotti on his alleged involvement in numerous underground activities, asked Selebi’s former friend about the Surtee incident.

Agliotti confirmed introducing Stemmet to Surtee, whom he called his ‘friend”. He denied any knowledge of the allegation that Stemmet planted drugs on an ‘innocent” person in Cape Town.

‘The result [of Agliotti’s introduction of Stemmet to Surtee] was that Mr Stemmet went down to Cape Town with some of his assistants, planted drugs in the person’s house, informed the police and the man was arrested and prosecuted for dealing in drugs,” Cilliers told the court.

Agliotti confirmed that he was told this version of events, but said he had no personal knowledge of it.

‘Have you done anything to prevent this situation or set it straight?” Cilliers asked Agliotti.

‘At the time I had no knowledge of what they were going to do,” Agliotti responded.

Cilliers: ‘Have you done anything since to set the position straight?”

Agliotti: ‘No.”

Cilliers: ‘It’s a terrible situation we deal with in this instance.
Maybe a completely innocent man is being prosecuted for dealing in drugs, sitting in jail, innocently,” Cilliers told court.

Judge Meyer Joffe, who appeared upset by the testimony, asked chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel whether he knew about the situation and if an innocent man was indeed ‘sitting in jail”.

Nel, without giving more details, simply responded: ‘The matter has been dealt with, M’lord.”

Earlier, Cilliers emphasised the fact that Agliotti often misrepresented hearsay as fact in his sworn statements. These statements were made while in jail, following his arrest for the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble.

One example was an affidavit by Agliotti in which he alleged businessman Gavin Varejes ‘favoured the accused by paying for holidays for the accused in return for favours”.

These alleged favours included shortlisting Varejes’ computer company for a South African Police Service tender. Agliotti’s response was, ‘I don’t have firsthand knowledge. I was told that.”

Another example was an accusation in Agliotti’s statement that a senior official at BMW, who was a friend of Selebi’s, had been awarded a tender to supply the police force with cars. Agliotti replied that that was what he had suspected.

Cilliers told Agliotti: ‘In your statement, you didn’t put this as something heard second-hand, you stated it as facts you personally knew ... To some extent you have misled the reader.” Agliotti merely apologised, and said, ‘That’s right.”

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