News24

Selebi, Nel in verbal sparring

2010-04-16 14:13

Johannesburg - Judge Meyer Joffe was kept busy in the Jackie Selebi corruption trial on Friday morning, having to constantly call the former police chief and prosecutor Gerrie Nel to order.

The two men kept interrupting each other, prompting Joffe to ask them to give each other a chance to finish asking questions in the South Gauteng High Court.

At some point, the two even argued about the difference between the Bulgarian and the South African non-verbal signs of saying yes and no, drawing laughter from the packed public gallery.

"Be careful of shaking heads because in Bulgaria, shaking a head like this (nodding) means no and shaking it like this (to the side) means yes... opposite to South Africa. So I might have acted like Bulgarians," said Selebi, the former national police commissioner.

Nel, who had wanted to know if Selebi, by shaking his head, wanted to say yes, retorted: "Mr Selebi, this is a serious matter, you are not a Bulgarian and you know it."

Earlier in the morning, as Selebi's lawyer, Jaap Cilliers, wrapped up the evidence-in-chief, Selebi told the court that he considered the State's chief witness to be his friend.

"Glenn Agliotti was my friend but he was not my bosom friend," Selebi said.

"He was my friend for one reason - that whatever information I could siphon from him, I will, for the greater good."

Selebi said Agliotti had struck him as a "good man... somebody a person could have a relationship with".

Selebi took the stand on Thursday after he failed in an attempt to have the case against him dropped.

He told the court that Agliotti was a charming person who was good at providing him with information on white collar crime.

Selebi denied any involvement in corrupt activities and told the court he would "never sell his soul for money".

Selebi stands accused of defeating the ends of justice by receiving large sums of money from Agliotti - a convicted drug trafficker - in return for favours.

The trial continues.