High noon for Selebi

2010-08-03 08:45

Former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi will be sentenced for corruption in the Johannesburg High Court today.

Judge Meyer Joffe said he hoped to have sentence ready by noon.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel had argued for a minimum 15-year sentence to set an example to other police officers and law enforcement officers that corruption is unacceptable.

Selebi’s counsel Jaap Cilliers said Selebi had been embarrassed enough through his public fall from grace, and that at most he should be sentenced up to R500 000.

During evidence in mitigation of sentencing, the court was told that Selebi had played a vital role during the struggle against apartheid and had been instrumental in helping exiled freedom fighters return home.

He had been an ambassador and a director-general in the department of foreign affairs with no complaints, and had won an award for work geared at eradicating landmines.

As a police officer, he had been well respected.

Joffe expressed concern over whether he should impose the maximum sentence on a person in his sixties – Selebi’s age – worried that it might be a “sledgehammer”.

Cilliers argued the State had not been prejudiced when Selebi took money from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti, whom Selebi had said was a police informant, as there was no evidence that Agliotti had benefited from their relationship.

The State argued that Selebi’s age was immaterial, that he was responsible for “breaking” his own reputation, and that the South African government, the people and the international policing community had suffered harm because the head of police was corrupt.

Agliotti was currently on trial for the murder of mining boss Brett Kebble. That trial was under way in the court next to where Selebi would be sentenced. Agliotti’s defence was that it was an “assisted suicide”.

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