Media brand Selebi a 'corrupt liar'

South African media on Wednesday welcomed the 15-year prison sentence handed down in the corruption trial of former national police chief Jackie Selebi, calling him a “corrupt liar”.

“We allowed this man to shame South Africa,” said an article in the Times, which called the former top cop and former Interpol president a “corrupt liar” in its front-page headline.

“It was embarrassing to any South African to think that this man, lying like a child caught with sweet wrappers in his pocket, should ever have represented us,” the paper said.

Selebi was on Tuesday sentenced to 15 years for accepting bribes from organised crime. Judge Meyer Joffe, who presided in the case, said he believed it was the highest-level graft conviction ever in South Africa.

In his sentence, Joffe said Selebi had lied in the witness box and fabricated evidence.

‘From hero to zero’
The press was equally hard on the former police chief, with the Times and the Star quoting Joffe’s sentence calling him a “national embarrassment”.

“From hero to zero,” said the headline in the Sowetan.

Photos of a grim-faced Selebi leaving court with his wife after the sentencing dominated the front pages.

Business Day expressed a degree of compassion for the disgraced ex-official, saying in an editorial that South Africa’s prisons are under-funded, over-crowded and controlled by violent gangs and corrupt warders.

“Anybody who possesses an ounce of compassion would not wish to see even their worst enemy spend time in a South African jail,” the paper said.

The daily also joined many political analysts in asking if other high-level corruption trials will follow, given that the government has shut down the Scorpions, the independent investigation unit that pursued Selebi.—AFP


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