Selebi spy's paranoid world

A former police intelligence boss has dropped a bombshell in the middle of Jackie Selebi’s corruption trial, alleging that Selebi’s prosecutor is part of a ‘judicial mafia” trying to subvert the state.

Mulangi Mphego, the former acting divisional commissioner of crime intelligence, alleges that prosecutor Gerrie Nel and the lead investigator in Selebi’s case, Andrew Leask, are among 45 people under investigation for plotting to discredit the ­government.

Mphego makes the sensational claims in an affidavit submitted to the Randburg Magistrate’s Court this week as part of his application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

He is charged with attempting to defeat the ends of justice through interventions that saw key Selebi witness Glenn Agliotti try to exculpate Selebi in secret meetings with Mphego and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in ­January 2008.

In his statement, Mphego also:

  • Sheds light on how an affidavit by Agliotti, handed to Mphego and NIA bosses on January 4 2008, became available almost immediately to Selebi’s defence team;
  • Discloses details about Destroy Lucifer, the undercover operation he launched to monitor top Scorpions officials and which captured the conversations later used to torpedo corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma; and
  • Denies leaking a videotape of a secret interview he conducted with Agliotti to the Star‘s deputy editor, Jovial Rantao, but admits showing Rantao bits of the video after a meeting was ‘engineered” by police spokesperson Selby Bokaba.
In his affidavit Mphego, who has since resigned from the police, claims he is the victim of a malicious prosecution by the state aimed at protecting senior prosecutors from being exposed by the country’s spy agencies.

In his affidavit he asserts that police intelligence, under Selebi’s leadership and Thabo Mbeki’s presidency, cooperated with the NIA on Destroy Lucifer to investigate individuals who were ‘undermining the integrity, legitimacy and the overall political reputation of the government”.

The claims are reminiscent of the hoax email saga, which alleged that right-wing plotters in the Scorpions and an ANC faction in league with foreign powers were behind the prosecution of Zuma.

Mphego claims that ‘intelligence revealed the involvement of no less than 45 people and seven private entities” and that at least seven of these suspects were ‘either current or erstwhile senior members of the NPA”. Nel and Leask were suspects, he claims, and the charges against him are therefore ‘mala fide and intended to suffocate the continued investigation”.

The Mail & Guardian has been told that Mphego was feeding at least some of this information into the State Security Council—on which the NPA is not represented—which might explain Mbeki’s reluctance to take action against Selebi.

‘There are certain things that you don’t divulge to a country,” the former director general in the Presidency, Frank Chikane, told a parliamentary committee at the beginning of this year, saying that Mbeki’s doubts derived from intelligence to which he was privy.

It also appears that Destroy Lucifer may have been responsible for intercepting the version of the ‘Browse Mole” report that was leaked to Cosatu in May 2007—and led to an outcry against the Scorpions.

According to Mphego, Destroy Lucifer—which was officially authorised on March 1 2007—used intelligence-gathering techniques that included telephone and direct interceptions, remote data mining, source cultivation and agent penetration.

This resulted in intelligence data pointing to ‘suspicious manoeuvres and penetration by enemy formations”, Mphego states.

‘The threat was exceedingly huge, complex and hinged on a multitude of concealed and insidious activities by individuals including state officials employed to serve the functions and mission of the criminal justice system, private legal practitioners, financial houses as well as officials within commerce and industry in general.”

The suspects of Destroy Lucifer were allegedly involved in espionage, blackmail, corruption, money laundering, sabotaging the criminal justice system and the malicious leaking of classified government information to the media ‘with the ultimate objective of compromising national security”.

Part of the investigation focused on the ‘alleged commercial interests” of NPA office bearers and their ‘association with private and foreign intelligence institutions”.

‘Furthermore there were alleged judicial misconduct and corruption perpetrated by judicial mafia, through the running of a protection racket and blackmail as well as the alleged abuse of administrative process and the intimidation of witnesses.”­

Mphego connects this to his own case, saying the NPA ‘deliberately” set out from the start to manipulate criminal procedure to deny him his constitutional rights.

In his affidavit Mphego largely relies on Agliotti’s testimony during Selebi’s corruption trial to argue that he should not be prosecuted for defeating the ends of justice.

The state alleges that he interfered with a state witness by ‘procuring” the controversial January 4 2008 affidavit in which Agliotti accused the Scorpions of plotting against himself and Selebi.
According to Mphego Agliotti’s evidence makes it clear that he was a willing participant in handing over the affidavit at a meeting with Mphego and top NIA officials Manala Manzini and Arthur Fraser at the Balalaika Hotel in Johannesburg.

Mphego claims the NIA bosses took the lead in the process and had been in contact with Agliotti since October 2007.
He asserts that Agliotti’s affidavit was faxed to Selebi’s advocate from police headquarters the next day (January 5).

A few days later Selebi used the affidavit as part of his unsuccessful application to have the charges against him dropped.

In his affidavit Mphego quotes from a sworn statement by director Pikkie van Vuuren, the legal head of crime intelligence, in which he explains how Agliotti’s statement landed up with Selebi’s advocate, Jaap Cilliers.

In it Van Vuuren states: ‘I met Comm. Mphego at the office. He showed me the affidavit, which he said that he had received from NIA. I assumed that the officials from NIA had declassified the said document ... I realised that it was pertinent to Commissioner Selebi’s application in that it reflects on both Agliotti’s credibility as well as the contention by the National Commissioner that he was framed ... I advised Commissioner Mphego that I regard the Agliotti affidavit of 4 January 2008 as being relevant and caused the affidavit to be faxed to Adv Cilliers SC’s chambers.”

Mphego claims he was contacted by the Star‘s Rantao to confirm the authenticity of a tape leaked to him [Rantao] of an interview with Agliotti. ‘I then permitted Mr Rantao to view approximately five seconds of the footage from my own copy of the video recording on a camcorder that was in my possession ... The meeting between myself and the journalist ... was engineered by Director Selby Bokaba of the SAPS (Public Relations Department).”

Mphego’s trial was postponed until May 7 next year for the dismissal application to be heard.

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