News24

Selebi gets his day in court

2009-10-04 21:49

Johannesburg - Former national police chief Jackie Selebi's corruption trial is set down to start in the High Court in Johannesburg on Monday.

Judge Meyer Joffe warned the State during Selebi's last appearance in May that he would not tolerate any further delays.

"Let there be no misunderstanding in that regard," Joffe told State prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Selebi was supposed to go on trial on April 14, but the State insisted that the matter be postponed.

The investigation started in 2006 and Selebi first presented himself to court in 2008.

He faces two charges of corruption and one of defeating the ends of justice relating to payments he allegedly received from ex-Hyundai boss Billy Rautenbach, and slain mining boss Brett Kebble and his associate Glenn Agliotti, who is accused of murdering Kebble.

Selebi has shown impatience for the trial to start, abandoning a demand for outstanding documents that could help his case, just so the trial could get underway.

However, the State said it was not yet prepared for trial, partly because prosecutors had struggled since 2006 to get crucial information to back up its case from the police.

"Either they are loyal to him, or the accused is still in charge," Nel said at the last hearing.

Interpol
 
Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble last month criticised Selebi's slow prosecution, saying he did not understand why it was taking so long.

"I've never seen happening what is happening in South Africa," said Noble.
 
"I sure hope that South Africa is still a country where people are innocent until proven guilty," he added.

Selebi served as Interpol president from 2004 until January 12 2008, but resigned after being suspended over the graft allegations.
 
Selebi's lawyer Jaap Cilliers said his client wanted his trial to start to show "that he has been degraded by the [National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)] for improper purposes".

Selebi took special leave in 2007, when it emerged he was about to be charged with alleged corruption relating to his relationship with Agliotti, a convicted drug-trafficker.

Agliotti is also a co-accused in the murder of Kebble, whose funds were allegedly used to pay Selebi.

The Selebi case has had political ramifications, most notably affecting former national director of public prosecutions Vusi Pikoli, who maintains it was the reason for his dismissal by former president Thabo Mbeki.

Pikoli has said he was suspended by Mbeki for ignoring political orders not to proceed with the corruption case against Selebi.