Following the Supreme Court of Appeal’s rejection of former
Police Commissioner Bheki Cele’s appeal last week – I was reminded by Pierre De
Vos in his Jackie
Selebi finish and klaar analysis of a letter former President Thabo Mbeki wrote
in August last year in response to a letter
by Freedom Front-Plus’ Peter Groenewald when he asked him to appoint a Judicial
Commission of Inquiry to investigate the allegations (of corruption) against
Selebi but refused.
Mbeki refused, saying in his response
to Groenewald at the time that: “Up to now nobody within the state structures
has informed me that there are any investigations affecting National
Commissioner Selebi that are being conducted by anybody, including the DSO,
(the Scorpions).” He said
he was “certain that if there was such an investigation [against Selebi], or
such an investigation was contemplated, I would have been informed accordingly.
In this regard, I must emphasise that if any of our law enforcement or
intelligence agencies felt that they had information that justified such an
investigation, I would encourage them to do their work without let or
hindrance, in keeping with their legal mandate”.
The former president said
appointing a Judicial Commission of Inquiry “solely and exclusively on the
basis of what in reality (to him, it seemed) amounts to nothing more than
rumour and speculation”. He went on to speak
of how “very wrong and absolutely absorbed” it would have been for him as a
president to constitution such an inquiry “on this [rumour and speculation]
Groenewald had also asked in his letter to Mbeki that Selebi
to vacate his positions as Commissioner of Police and Head of Interpol until
such an investigation had been finalized. He said not only was the former
police commissioner an embarrassment to South Africa but that the he was also
an embarrassment for the whole international Police community. “It can not be
tolerated that the chief of the Police continue with his work under a cloud of
allegations of his involvement with crime. The public and members of the SAPS
can also not have any faith in the National Commissioner with these allegations
levelled against him”.
But Mbeki would not barge, claiming
he had the “greatest confidence” in Selebi and was “certain that whatever the
rumour mill is saying about him, he will continue to do his critically
important work with the same diligence, dedication and selflessness he has
shown ever since we appointed him as National Commissioner of the SAPS”. Said Mbeki
in his letter to Groenewald at the time: “During the twelve years we have been
in government we have seen a number of instances when rumour and speculation
have been used to oblige our government to engage in fruitless activities that
would only serve to give such rumours and speculation a longer lease of life.
Consistently, we have refused to engage in such misguided activities”.
“Contrary to what you say in your letter”, Mbeki wrote to
Groenewald, “I have no doubt that both the public and the members of the SAPS
are both sensible and wise and thus would never stop trusting the National
Commissioner simply because some unknown people decided to spread negative
rumours about him”.
The former president said “If at some point the people
responsible for peddling the allegations against the National Commissioner of
Police to which you [Groenewald] refer in your letter provide me with credible
information in this regard, I would take all necessary steps to ensure that the
proper investigations are carried out”. Where credible information existed as
Groenewald had claimed, Mbeki said, it would have been Selebi himself who would
“be the first to insist that the necessary conditions should be created to
facilitate any investigation against him, including his suspension, if
As a result and as president of the country at the time –
Mbeki said it would have been “entirely wrong and absurd” of him to take
serious decision to appoint a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into corruption
allegation against Selebi for which he has since been found guilty – a
conviction which was further confirmed appropriate the by Supreme Court of
Appeal last week.
And it is for this reason that I bet it is Groenewald who now
“laughs the best”.