Former top cop Selebi collapses after appeal fails

Corrupt former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi collapsed at his Waterkloof North, Pretoria home after the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed his attempt to have his corruption conviction set aside.

“He is not doing well,” said Wynanda Coetzee, who was part of the legal team that represented him at the trial where he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

  • Read the full judgment here

Former police commissioner Jackie Selebi was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. This marked the end of a lengthy trial that revealed the workings of an organised crime network involving bribes, corruption and a R50 000 suit. The trial owes its existence mainly to investigative journalism by the M&G.

She said he had not taken the news well and a doctor had been summoned.
“We are very worried ... he can’t walk,” Coetzee said.

An ambulance arrived at Selebi’s house in Waterkloof shortly after he collapsed.

Last month it was reported that Selebi could not travel to Bloemfontein because of ill health, however, his legal team refused to speak about his health at the time.

Selebi was found to have accepted money from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti. Cheque counterfoils bearing the annotations, “cash JS”, “A”, “cash cop” and “cash chief” linked Selebi to payments from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti.

They rejected the submission that the cheques were for an ill policeman Agliotti was helping to support.

“The appeal is dismissed,” Judge Kenneth Mthiyane said in Bloemfontein.

Selebi was appealing last year’s judgment by Judge Meyer Joffe in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, where he was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Judge Joffe called Selebi “a liar” with “low moral fibre”.

“On all the evidence contained in 66 volumes amountingto more than 600 pages that we had to wade through in this application for appeal, we are satisfied that the high court was correct in finding that the applicant did receive payment from Agliotti,” said Mthiyane.

Mthiyane said that the appeal court’s decision centred around two issues: the state succeeded in proving payments from Agliotti toSelebi, and that Selebi in return provided benefits to Agliotti.

Key witnesses

In total 19 witnesses testified for the state, including key witnesses Agliotti himself, Dianne Muller (Agliotti’s girlfriend) and Martin Flint. Seven witnesses appeared for the defence.

Selebi received payments of R110 000, R30 000 and R10 000, as well as an unspecified amount in American dollars. In return he shared secret information with Agliotti and in particular information that the UK police were investigating him for drug dealing.

Mthiyane said that Selebi must have known that payments from Agliotti were illegal. “The appellant must have known that a hustler would use this relationship,” Mthiyane said.

Meanwhile, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Friday that Selebi’s time in jail will remind corrupt people that crime does not pay.

“Cosatu hopes that eventually all those who can’t explain their huge bank balances and who can’t explain how they became overnight multimillionaires will eventually join him in prison,” the union federation said in a statement.

The former police commissioner and head of Interpol had 48 hours to report to prison to start serving his 15-year sentence.

“It is regrettable that a man with such an implacable [sic] record in the struggle against apartheid, is going to spend 15 years in prison for accepting R166 000, a small sum compared to the amounts others are looting from the state through tenderpreneurship activities.

“Nevertheless, in Cosatu’s view, corruption is as bad as apartheid was; both are based on marginalising the poor, most of whom are black in general and Africans in particular.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) felt the dismissal of the appeal sent a powerful message on the severe consequences of corruption.

“At long last we have closed this shameful chapter in our history which has severely dented the image of the [SA Police Service] and the integrity and credibility of South Africa as a whole,” said IFP spokesperson on police Velaphi Ndlovu.

Important signal
“This is an important signal to send out if we want to successfully deal with corruption in our country,” Ndlovu said.

The party said the National Prosecuting Authority had done its job well.

The Democratic Alliance urged Selebi to “do the honourable thing” and hand himself over to the nearest police station to start his sentence.

“This is the end of what has been probably the most controversial and nationally embarrassing court case South Africa has ever experienced,” DA spokesperson on police, Dianne Kohler Barnard said.

“He was the head of Interpol when he was arrested.”

She would write to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to find out what he was going to do to recover what she said was a R17.4-million bill for the case.

Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said the state would have to look at the criteria when taxpayer’s money was used for legal fees of officials.

“Guarantees should be given beforehand, otherwise it boils down to wasting of taxpayers’ money if the costs cannot be recovered,” Groenewald said.

For coverage of former police chief Jackie Selebi’s corruption trial and aftermath, visit our special report.

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