Pikoli takes issue with Scorpions being 'singled out'

Former prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli told the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday that the so-called international intelligence agency that trained the Scorpions also coached the police and National Intelligence Agency.

A visibly upset Pikoli responded to questions by former police national commissioner Jackie Selebi’s advocate, Jaap Cilliers, about the Scorpions’ alleged involvement with foreign intelligence agencies.

“For the DSO [the Scorpions] to be singled out — I find it unacceptable. The same Kroll agency that organised training for the DSO also provided training to the intelligence agency and the police. It was a government arrangement,” Pikoli told court.

Kroll is an international risk consulting firm based in New York.

During the 2005 Khampepe hearings into the future of the Scorpions, Selebi and former spy boss Billy Masetlha accused the Scorpions of being infiltrated by international intelligence agencies.

City Press reported at the time that Masetlha referred to Kroll by name in his written submission to the inquiry.

Cilliers also intimated that former Scorpion Robyn Plitt and Paul O’Sullivan, the former head of security at OR Tambo Airport, respectively worked for American and British intelligence agencies.

Pikoli said he had no knowledge of Plitt allegedly working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
He did, however, confirm that Plitt resigned from the Scorpions and is now living in America.

Cilliers started questioning Pikoli on O’Sullivan’s role in the Selebi investigation before court adjourned for lunch.

According to Cilliers there was an “enormous feud” between Selebi and O’Sullivan, a British citizen, during 2005 and 2006. O’Sullivan allegedly obtained statements for the Scorpions and even negotiated indemnities with witnesses.

Pikoli responded to this by saying: “There are no laws prohibiting citizens or residents from assisting in criminal investigations. When some issues came up over Paul O’Sullivan, I told the [investigation] team in no uncertain terms I don’t want him involved in the investigation.”

Pikoli did credit O’Sullivan for providing the Scorpions with information that led to the arrest of alleged drug dealer Steve Paparas.

Earlier, the court heard that Selebi allegedly tried to blackmail Pikoli into dropping charges against controversial Zimbabwean businessman Billy Rautenbach.

Pikoli testified that on a trip with Selebi to the Eastern Cape in 2005, Selebi said to him: “You guys, why are you not dropping the charges against Rautenbach?”

Pikoli replied: “Why should we?” to which Selebi allegedly responded: “Because I am in possession of a letter that can cause embarrassment to Mr [Bulelani] Ngcuka [Pikoli’s predecessor] and the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority].”

Pikoli said he had then “dismissed the matter”.

Pikoli was referring to a letter from Ngcuka to Rautenbach’s lawyer, James Ramsay, in which Selebi claims Ngcuka attempted to illicit a bribe from Rautenbach.

An infuriated Pikoli also told the court that contrary to Selebi’s plea explanation, which was read out to court on the first day of the trial, he had never been called into Selebi’s office to discuss Pikoli’s wife’s shares in empowerment company Vulisango, the main shareholder of mining company Simmer & Jack.

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