Selebi faces R1.6m legal bill from cops

2014-12-21 15:00

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Jackie Selebi will soon be required to pay back the money the state spent on his legal fees – but the bill he will get is for less than 10% of the total cost.

The disgraced former national police commissioner racked up lawyers’ fees of R17.4?million while battling charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice during a nine-month trial in the South Gauteng High Court.

Two senior police sources told City Press this week that state attorneys acting on behalf of the SA Police Service, which paid Selebi’s legal fees, have recommended that he pay back R1.6?million.

The two told City Press that Selebi’s final bill was sent to police commissioner Riah Phiyega in late October.

“Phiyega signed the letter and sent it to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko for final approval. Now Nhleko has to sign it and forward instructions to Selebi and his lawyers,” said one of the sources.

Although the sources could not provide a breakdown of the bill, they said the state attorneys wrote a letter explaining that while determining the final amount, they considered the fact that Selebi was not found guilty on all the charges he faced.

“That’s why he is not required to pay the full amount,” said one of the sources.

Selebi was found guilty of corruption for accepting bribes of cash, designer clothes and shoes totalling R1.2?million from his friend and convicted drug dealer Glenn Agliotti.

He was found not guilty of defeating the ends of justice.

Selebi, who took his case to the Supreme Court of Appeal, where he lost, was represented by top advocate Jaap Cilliers and attorney Wynanda Coetzee.

In terms of a pretrial agreement reached with the state, Selebi undertook to pay his legal costs if he was found guilty.

Judge Meyer Joffe sentenced him to 15 years in jail, but Selebi was released on medical parole in 2012 after serving only 229 days in prison.

He spent most of this time in the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria after he was diagnosed with kidney failure, hypertension and diabetes.

After his release from prison, Selebi moved back into his home, now worth more than R3?million, in the exclusive Pretoria suburb of Waterkloof.

His wife, Anne, a qualified nurse, administers his kidney dialysis treatment four times a day.

However, he might not be able to pay back the R1.6?million.

“Before the decision was made, he made recommendations through his lawyer, saying he had no money to pay. I don’t know if he will repay the money at all,” said one of the police sources.

Both senior sources said the final bill had not yet been sent to Selebi’s lawyers.

Coetzee said she had not been told of the final amount and promised to check with her client before making a statement.

City Press spoke to Anne Selebi yesterday. She told us to call back as she was busy with her husband’s dialysis. Subsequent calls and messages went unanswered, and there appeared to be no activity at the house.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale confirmed that “the auditing and reconciliation of the legal bill has been finalised”.

“His lawyers have also submitted comments. We have received recommendations from the State Attorney. We are considering the recommendation and will communicate the decision in due course.”

Makgale said he could not comment on the final amount, whether Selebi had agreed to pay, or on the terms of the repayment.

Forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan, who assisted the police in the Selebi investigation, said the final settlement was a “joke” and was robbing South African taxpayers.

“I spent R3?million investigating Selebi. Now he has to pay only R1.6?million out of the R17.4?million? I am going to sue the police service for maladministration and I also want back the money I spent on the case,” he fumed.

In July, Phiyega told the parliamentary portfolio committee on police after her budget speech that the process of determining how much Selebi owed the police in legal bills was at an “advanced” stage.

“First we had to determine the … total costs of that entire action, of which a more in-depth assessment needed to be made.

“Because the principle is that if you win your case, costs are defrayed and, as most of you are aware, it’s been a mixed bag.

“There are areas where there have been winnings. There are areas where there have been losses, so that process took some time.”

Nhleko’s spokesperson, Musa Zondi, said yesterday he was unable to comment on the bill as he was not able to obtain the information on a Saturday. – Additional reporting by Xolani Mbanjwa

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