Mbeki tried to delay Selebi arrest

2009-05-14 08:20
Johannesburg - Court papers have revealed that former president Thabo Mbeki did try to delay the arrest of suspended police chief Jackie Selebi, reports said on Thursday.

In an affidavit before the high court in Pretoria, Mbeki said he had wanted the axed chief prosecutor, Vusi Pikoli, to allow him two weeks to prepare the country for Selebi's arrest for corruption, The Star newspaper reported.

"I told him that I would deliver the commissioner to him, if he so required, to avoid a potential shootout between members... I needed to ensure that the police leadership was prepared to deal with the arrest of the commissioner," Mbeki said in the affidavit.

"I raised the prevailing anger of the members of the South African Police Service and their preparedness to go to jail should it come to that, and expressed my concerns of the prospects of a stand-off."

Mbeki said he was surprised to learn from Pikoli that the Scorpions planned to arrest Selebi.

Pikoli suspension

Business Day said Mbeki subsequently consulted the National Security Council which advised him to suspend Pikoli.

Mbeki's affidavit joins those filed by former president Kgalema Motlanthe and former director-general in the presidency, Frank Chikane.

Pikoli filed papers with the high court in February after Parliament ratified Motlanthe's decision to dismiss him as national director of public prosecutions.

Pikoli claims he was suspended by Mbeki for ignoring political orders not to proceed with a corruption case against Selebi.

He was dismissed by Motlanthe late last year even though a commission of inquiry, led by African National Congress veteran Frene Ginwala, recommended his re-appointment.

But Motlanthe cited some concerns raised by Ginwala as the reason to fire Pikoli, including the fact that Pikoli did not grant Mbeki the requested two weeks delay in the Selebi's arrest.

- SAPA
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