How Glenn Agliotti won on judgment day

2010-11-28 13:00

The acquittal of Brett Kebble murder accused Glenn Agliotti this week has turned the spotlight on National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Menzi Simelane’s ­involvement in the matter.

Simelane personally removed chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel and his team from the case in March and “instructed” Johannesburg’s acting director of public prosecutions to replace them with state advocates Dan Dakana, Kholeka Gcaleka and Lethabo Mashiane.

Nel, his junior advocate, Andrea Johnson, and senior investigator Andrew Leask have initiated and led the Scorpions’ Operation Bad Guys investigation since March 2006.

The same team successfully prosecuted former police chief Jackie Selebi for corruption in July. They also negotiated plea bargains with Agliotti and Kebble’s former security head, Clinton Nassif, on charges of drug trafficking, and are leading the prosecution of ­suspected hashish dealer Stefanos Paparas in the Germiston ­Magistrate’s Court.

The new prosecutions team in the Kebble murder trial, led by Dakana, came in for a tongue-lashing from Judge Frans Kgomo on Thursday during his ruling on ­Agliotti’s application for ­discharge.

Kgomo accused them of being ill-prepared during arguments, of contradicting their own witnesses and of withholding documents from the defence.
After the verdict, NPA spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said they did not regret replacing Nel and his team as it was “standard practice” for prosecutors to hand over cases to their colleagues.

The Mail & Guardian reported in February that talks to have Nel and his team removed from the case were initiated by the Kebble family, who didn’t trust Agliotti’s closeness to the Bad Guys team.

During a meeting with Simelane, the Kebble family’s attorney, Kim Warren, told him they were concerned about a possible conflict of interest because of Nel’s involvement as prosecutor in the Selebi case.

The Kebbles felt Nel and his team had to keep Agliotti “on side” because of his crucial evidence in the Selebi matter.

Agliotti testified about bribes paid to Selebi, clothes bought for Selebi’s sons and intelligence reports shown to him by Selebi about his involvement in the international drug trade.

Their reliance on Agliotti’s evidence to nail Selebi could have impaired the team’s judgement in prosecuting him for Kebble’s killing, the family argued to Simelane.

Ironically, the poor conduct of the new team that replaced Nel, Johnson and Leask was an important factor in Kgomo’s judgment that let Agliotti off the hook.

In his ruling, Kgomo referred to the turf war between the police and the Scorpions that led to the bungling of the Kebble murder probe.

It was not his duty to unravel what exactly happened, said ­Kgomo, but it was clear the probe was “hampered, if the course of justice was not obstructed”.

At the heart of the dispute ­between the police and Scorpions was the decision to grant indemnity to Kebble’s hit men, and negotiate plea bargains with Agliotti and Nassif in exchange for their ­evidence against Selebi.

Nel and former prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli often argued that they were satisfied the compromise was fair in light of allegations of corruption against South ­Africa’s number one policeman.

Investigating officer Colonel ­Pieter Van Heerden testified that the decision to cut deals with ­Kebble’s killer, Mikey Schultz, and his assistants, Nigel McGurk and Kappie Smith, “did not sit well with top brass in the police as well as Selebi”.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.