Opposition give NPA thumbs up

2010-07-02 18:15

Johannesburg - Opposition political parties, the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, Independent Democrats and the African Christian Democratic Party, on Friday commended the successful prosecution of former police chief Jackie Selebi.

Selebi was found guilty of corruption and acquitted on a charge of defeating the ends of justice by the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday afternoon.

The DA said justice was served with the verdict.

"[His] successful prosecution speaks highly of a healthy criminal justice system that is impartial and fair and that our democracy is certainly safe," said DA spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard in a statement.

She said Selebi had become the first Interpol president to be found guilty of corruption, which was an "extreme embarrassment to our country".

The verdict also highlighted the problem of corruption at the very highest levels of South Africa's government where cadre deployment had long placed dishonest individuals in positions of power and authority.

"It is particularly unacceptable in the police service, as the police are the very people charged with enforcing the law and if the person heading that institution is corrupt, then the example set is most dangerous."

For South Africa's top cop to be found guilty of corruption was an enormous indictment on those who put him there, Barnard said.

The FF Plus said the Selebi case had seriously damaged South Africa and its reputation abroad.

The party's leader Pieter Mulder said the FF Plus had in 2006 requested then president Thabo Mbeki to appoint a judicial commission to investigate the allegations of Selebi's involvement with organised crime.

"If Mbeki had acted earlier, the state could have saved millions of rands and the case could already have been concluded."

The guilty finding sent a strong message to people in the government service involved in corruption that that sort of activity would not be tolerated by the legal system.

'Strong message'

His sentiments were echoed by ID leader Patricia de Lille who said: "This sends out a very strong message to all the corrupt leaders in our country that no one is above the law".

She said the court had proven again that where there was corruption on the part of leaders, and those cases made it into the courts, justice would be delivered.

"The fact that the judge made it very clear that [former NPA boss] Vusi Pikoli’s evidence was impeccable means that once again Pikoli has been vindicated and he has been shown to be a man of integrity."

The ACDP agreed that the judgment vindicated Pikoli, whose decision to go ahead with Selebi's case eventually led to his sacking as NPA head.

Steve Swart, ACDP spokesperson, commended the NPA for acting independently, free from political interference and "without fear, favour or prejudice" in the case.

"It is regrettable that the level of corruption in our nation reached right up to the level of national police commissioner.

"This is a severe embarrassment to our nation at a time when the eyes of the world are on South Africa during the Fifa World Cup, particularly because Selebi was not only our police chief, but also president of Interpol."