Selebi ‘knew Agliotti was a hustler’

2011-11-01 16:14

Just by agreeing to accept money or gifts from someone you suspect may want to buy your influence constitutes corruption.

With this interpretation of the 2004 Corruption Act, Judge Suretta Snyders brought an end to a gruelling day for the advocate of former police chief Jackie Selebi before an unsympathetic bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

Advocate Jaap Cilliers SC spent close to six hours on his feet, arguing why the SCA should overturn Judge Meyer Joffe’s conviction of Selebi on corruption charges for receiving money and gifts from drug-dealer Glenn Agliotti.

Cilliers’ arguments centred on Selebi’s denial that he had received any money from Agliotti; the former top cop’s belief that he was the victim of a conspiracy by the Scorpions and their witnesses, and Selebi’s denial that he did anything in return for receiving benefits from Agliotti, as alleged by the state.

It was on the last point that Snyders debated Cilliers about his understanding of the new Corruption Act that makes it unnecessary for the state to prove that there was a counter-performance by a politician or civil servant accepting a bribe.

Cilliers first argued the state had to prove Selebi performed certain actions in Agliotti’s favour for allegedly receiving money from the drug-dealer. Joffe found that Selebi had shown two intelligence reports to Agliotti he wasn’t entitled to and was at Agliotti’s beck and call to meet businesspeople like Brett Kebble and Billy Rautenbach.

But Snyders read to Cilliers from the Act, saying it was not necessary for the court to be convinced Selebi did this to confirm his corruption conviction. Cilliers later agreed that Selebi only had to know Agliotti had dark motives when he paid him – to maybe make use of his influence in future. Snyders directed Cilliers to a quote by Selebi in his evidence where he said he knew Agliotti was a “hustler” and that if he was offered money, “he knew there would be something behind it”.

Selebi’s legal team left the courtroom in a huff after proceedings ended for the day, while the state’s team, led by advocate Gerrie Nel, looked pleased with the court’s reaction to Cilliers’ arguments.

Cilliers had a torrid time trying to convince the SCA that they should not believe anything Agliotti had said in his evidence. Snyders and Judge Leona Theron pointed out to him that Joffe had already called Agliotti an unreliable witness in his judgment and only used his evidence where it was corroborated by a second source.

“How does it help your case if certain people made false allegations (against Selebi)? Lies are told as part of criminal cases, but a trial is the place where that is sorted out,” Theron said.

Snyders added: “A criminal trial is designed to flush out those lies. The trial court (Joffe) saw that and found that, so where does that leave us?”

Cilliers hammered at Agliotti’s lack of credibility and that his and his ex-fiancée Dianne Muller’s versions of Selebi receiving R120 000 in cash differ vastly.

But Snyders and Judge Kenneth Mthiyane commented that events took place a long time ago and both (Agliotti and Muller) could be forgiven if they couldn’t remember precise dates and amounts.

Nel will tomorrow reply for the state.

» Follow Adriaan Basson on Twitter @adriaanbasson. Follow City Press @City_Press

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