Newsmaker – Glenn Agliotti: Unlikely mob?boss

2013-06-23 14:00

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Biography thrusts Agliotti back into media spotlight.

Glenn Agliotti must be one of the few South Africans who has been convicted of dealing drugs while claiming not to know a single thing about them.

“I don’t even know what the s**t looks like. I’ve never taken drugs myself,” he tells me, sitting in a coffee shop in Sandton.

Agliotti arrives in shapeless, faded-blue jeans and a polo sweatshirt. He’s drinking orange juice with two shots of ginger because he’s “full of the flu”.

More of an unlikely mob boss there’s never been, but Agliotti was this week thrust back into the media spotlight on that ticket after Peter Piegl and Sean Newman’s biography of him hit the shelves.

But what’s Agliotti’s cut for participating in the book deal?

“It wasn’t about the monetary side,” he insists, because I make no money on the book whatsoever. The authors make the money.”

For Agliotti, the book was an opportunity to get his “side of the story out there, so one day my kids can make up their own minds and for them to be proud of their dad”.

It tells the story of a simple friendship between former police commissioner Jackie Selebi and Agliotti, who casts himself as the innocent victim of a power struggle between the Scorpions and Selebi.

Agliotti has steadfastly maintained there was nothing nefarious about his relationship with Selebi, despite the fact that Agliotti accepted indemnity from prosecution and testified against Selebi in the trial that saw the struggle stalwart convicted of corruption.

“In my eyes, he (Selebi) never did anything for me. It wasn’t bribery, it wasn’t corruption.”

The only thing Agliotti regrets is the “drug side of things”.

“That was wrong. You get caught up in making money. You don’t really sit back and think. You don’t really want to let your mates down (when they ask) can you clear this (consignment of drugs) for me?”

He knows this is the way some of the South African public will always see him.

“If they don’t like me, they don’t like me. Some people love me and some people hate me. Some people ask me to bless them. They think I’m Ray McCauley.”

But Agliotti’s Zen acceptance of his lot remains shot through with schoolyard vitriol.

“People think I’ve got these millions stashed away. I say: China, if I had f***king money stashed, do you think I’d be sitting here like a c**t? I’d be on a f**king island sipping piña coladas.”

Agliotti says he is done with the underworld, although he still has “mates” – like Czech fugitive and alleged mob boss Radovan Krejcir – who are “not angels”.

So while Agliotti maintains his heady days of underworld dealings are over, his eyes light up when he talks about one of his business role models, controversial former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

It’s a rare, revealing slip of Agliotti’s carefully constructed media identity.

“I f**king love him, china. He’s a fucking mad c**t. Love him or hate him, he’s gregarious, bigger than life and self-made.”

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