Still guilty: Selebi loses appeal against 15-year jail term

Cheque counterfoils bearing the annotations, “cash JS”, “A”, “cash cop” and “cash chief” sunk former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi’s attempt to have his corruption conviction set aside in a judgment handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on Friday.

“The appeal is dismissed,” Judge Kenneth Mthiyane said, reading the judgment.

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.

Selebi was appealing his conviction by high court Judge Meyer Joffe, who found in August last year found him guilty of corruption and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. Judge Joffe called Selebi “a liar” with “low moral fibre”.

In a unanimous decision on Friday, the appeal court rejected the defence’s submission that the annotated cheques were for an ill policeman Agliotti was helping to support.

“This court also accepted that the words ‘cop’, c-o-p and ‘JS’ referred to the appellant,” said Mthiyane.

“On all the evidence contained in 66 volumes amounting to 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,” he said.

Mthiyane said that the appeal court’s decision centred around two issues: the state succeeded in proving payments from Agliotti to Selebi, and that Selebi in return provided benefits to Agliotti.
In total 19 witnesses testified for the state, including key witnesses Agliotti himself, Dianne Muller (Agliotti’s girlfriend) and Martin Flint. and seven for the defence.

Selebi received payments of R110 000, R30 000 and R10 000, as well as an unspecified amount of US dollars. In return Selebi shared secret information with Agliotti and in particular information that the UK police were monitoring his drug activities.

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.

‘Nationally embarrassing’
Selebi should do the honourable thing and hand himself over to the nearest police station to start his sentence, the Democratic Alliance said on Friday.

“This is the end of what has been probably the most controversial and nationally embarrassing court case South Africa has ever experienced,” the Democratic Alliance’s spokesperson on police, Dianne Kohler Barnard said, after Selebi lost his appeal.

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

She wanted to know from Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa what was going to be done to recover what she said was a R17.4 million bill for the case.

“I would also ask that Jackie Selebi for once do the honourable thing and go and hand himself over to the nearest police station,” she said.

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

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