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Indemnities a gamble - Pikoli

2009-11-17 14:10

Johannesburg - Granting possible indemnity to people implicated in crime in exchange for testimony against corruption-accused Jackie Selebi was a gamble, former prosecutions head Vusi Pikoli said in court on Tuesday.

"We knew the flak we would be getting... but we felt we were in a position if we could get [all the allegations against Selebi] corroborated. If this is true, it is a risk or gamble worth taking," Pikoli said in the South Gauteng High Court.

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Jaap Cilliers asked Pikoli how indemnity could be considered for people like security consultants Paul Stemmet and Clinton Nassif.

Stemmet has allegedly admitted to planting a bomb at Microsoft's offices to ensure they did not decrease their security budget.

Nassif, who was head of slain mining magnate Brett Kebble's security, apparently hired hitmen - including those who shot dead Kebble in his car in Melrose, Johannesburg on the night of September 27, 2005.

"To me all criminals are the same," Pikoli said.

Indemnity agreements 'warranted'

According to Section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act, a person guilty of criminal conduct may receive indemnity from prosecution if they testify for the State.

Pikoli said the seriousness of the allegations against Selebi warranted the indemnity agreements reached with witnesses.

"The whole question was as the country, given the high rate of crime in the country, we cannot afford to have a national commissioner of police who is alleged to be involved in the commission of serious crime. It's a serious matter.

"You need to use criminal against criminals."

Cilliers retorted: "Speeches won't assist, Mr Pikoli."

Selebi is facing a charge of corruption and another of defeating the ends of justice in connection with at least R1.2m he allegedly received from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti and others in return for favours.

SAPA