No longer married to the mob
Dianne Muller has stood firm in the face of cross-questioning in her testimony against Jackie Selebi, report Adriaan Basson, Ilham Rawoot and Sam Sole
It was the kind of relationship that could only end in tears. When long-legged, blonde Dianne Marie Muller entered the witness box in the South Gauteng High Court on Wednesday, she probably rued the day she met a strapping Glenn Agliotti at horse stables in Johannesburg in 1993.
Sixteen years on, she is not living the life of a country baroness in a Jane Austen novel, but finds herself at the centre of one of South Africa’s most gripping and frightening crime dramas.
Muller, who confirmed Agliotti’s evidence that he showered the former chief of police with cash and clothes, has emerged as a key witness. She was not only engaged to the don of the trial, Agliotti, but also featured strongly in reconnecting Selebi and Agliotti after they had not seen each other for a few years.
Agliotti testified earlier that he met Selebi in the early 1990s when Selebi was in charge of the ANC’s welfare department resettling comrades who were in exile.
After their contact was interrupted for a few years, they connected again in 2000 when Agliotti approached Selebi for his assistance with a torch run for mentally challenged children.
Muller, who was Agliotti’s fiancée at the time, was asked by the Special Olympics to raise funds in South Africa and she used Agliotti to get Selebi on board. Actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger was a patron of the event and travelled to South Africa for the torch run; and Paul Stemmet, who became a police informant with direct access to Selebi and is now a witness against him, formed part of Schwarzenegger’s security detail.
Thanks to Agliotti’s introduction, Selebi approved police assistance in the event. Via his new connections Agliotti was even able to arrange a meeting with Nelson Mandela for himself, Muller and the other directors of Maverick, her Midrand-based events management company.
Thereafter, Agliotti and Muller testified, Selebi frequented Maverick’s offices, often to pick up envelopes containing cash.
Muller was also the catalyst for introducing two other key players in the Selebi saga: Anthony Dormehl and—much later—Jurgen Kögl. Dormehl was the transport operator who set the dominos falling in criminal networks around Agliotti.
It was Dormehl who was “turned” by private investigator Paul O’Sullivan and told the Scorpions about a consignment of hashish that both Agliotti and security company boss Clinton Nassif had been involved in transporting—leading to the 2006 drug bust that set the prosecution ball rolling.
In one of his earliest statements, Dormehl revealed that he initially did transport work under instructions relayed by Muller, but that in about November 1997 she told him she would not to be involved any more and he should take his instructions directly from Agliotti.
Dormehl was thereafter used by Agliotti and his associates for sensitive jobs, including the transport of contraband cigarettes, drugs—and Schwarzenegger’s luggage.
Muller or her father, Martin Flint, who is the bookkeeper for Maverick, were also most likely the source of the first allegations that Brett Kebble, via Agliotti, was paying off Selebi. Flint managed a company for Agliotti called Spring Lights which received money from Kebble’s JCI group, some of which, the prosecution alleges, was used to pay bribes to Selebi.
The original allegation was contained in a draft copy of the National Intelligence Estimates dated October 10 2005, which makes reference to one “Jurgen Kögl” who claimed that the national commissioner “received large sums of money from the Kebbles”. It was this secret intelligence report that the prosecution alleges Selebi later showed to Agliotti.
Muller testified this week that Kögl—a businessman with top political connections—is now a partner in Maverick via African Renaissance Holdings, of which he is a director.
It is understood that Kögl began to explore the relationship between Kebble, Spring Lights, Agliotti and Selebi when he conducted a due diligence inspection of JCI on behalf of African Renaissance in 2005. That is apparently how he came to meet Muller and Flint.
Meanwhile, though Muller’s evidence called into question Agliotti’s reliability—she testified she moved him “out of [her] house because of his inability to tell the truth”—she bolstered key elements of his story with her own evident reliability. She was focused, composed and unequivocal in her evidence that Selebi collected cash from Maverick’s Midrand office.
When Selebi’s counsel Jaap Cilliers put it to her that Selebi never received cash or clothing from Agliotti, she twice looked Selebi in the eye and called him a liar. Although her dissing of Agliotti’s credibility may seem strange, it was exactly what the state would have expected of her evidence—to be as honest as possible in every aspect of her testimony.
On the witness stand Muller was a no-nonsense woman who stood her ground before humourless advocates. She initially appeared fragile: Judge Meyer Joffe asked her to speak more loudly, prosecutor Gerrie Nel told her to “keep your eyes on me” and she replied to a request to speak more slowly with a shy giggle, saying: “Sorry, it’s my nerves.”
But Cilliers was treated to a surprise; she is obviously more than the delicate, pretty woman she appears. In her black jacket, full-length skirt and understated jewellery, she was both a conservative, morally upstanding mother of a 24-year-old daughter and a successful businesswoman whose company marketed the Indian Premier League.
She expressed down-to-earth values. She felt Agliotti “was spending an exorbitant amount of money on clothing for somebody who had everything he could want in his cupboard”. She explained that they broke up because of his “inability to tell the truth” and because “he became very, very arrogant”.
When Cilliers questioned her honesty, her eye contact with him was unswerving and her offence unhidden. She was fidgeting nervously behind the witness stand but would not let Cilliers see. She merely said sternly: “I have told the truth on everything.”
Muller said she had direct knowledge of at least two occasions on which Agliotti allegedly bribed Selebi: a bag of R110 000 in cash that she claims was handed to the former police chief in her presence at Maverick’s office at the end of 2004 and a shopping trip to Sandton City, where Agliotti allegedly let Selebi’s two sons choose outfits at Fubu clothing store and put them on his (Agliotti’s) account.
Muller summed up the relationship between Agliotti and Selebi: “I think it was a friendship with gain. I think they used each other for what they could gain from the friendship.”