Selebi’s judgment day looms

2010-06-13 10:49

Almost 18 months since he was charged with corruption and defeating the ends of justice, former top cop Jackie Selebi’s case began winding down in the South Gauteng High Court in ­Johannesburg this week.

It has been one of the longest and most gruelling corruption trials in South Africa’s history. Judgment is expected on July 1.

This is a summary of the case for the state and for the defence.

For the State

Advocate Gerrie Nel prosecuted for the state.

The conduct of Selebi

The state says Selebi has been exposed through evidence as someone who does not respect the truth, was a misleading witness and is a person who calls others liars while objecting to ­being called one himself.

It says all this is indicative of an ­arrogant and disrespectful ­person overly impressed with his own seniority and perceived ­importance.

Glenn Agliotti’s evidence

State witness Glenn Agliotti made it clear he needed ­Selebi to attend meetings and the latter did so.

In his evidence, Selebi said that he was an independent police officer who met people who had had run-ins with the law.

According to Nel, “Selebi’s versions of the meetings were never put to any of the state witnesses.

“It clearly amounted to a changed version to thwart the ­inference that he was delivered to meetings by ­Agliotti and attended the meetings as a quid pro quo (a Latin expression meaning ‘in exchange’) for the money received.

“The accused, having received the money corruptly, felt obliged to go wherever Agliotti needed him. Selebi ­allowed Agliotti to deliver him to the house of the Kebbles.”


Selebi claimed that he ate ­extremely frugally while he was overseas on police and Interpol business, and that he claimed the daily ­allowances as income for ­himself. He said this explained why he was in possession of ­foreign currency.

Nel said the only reasonable inference “must be that Selebi laundered the cash received from ­Agliotti into euros and then back into rands”.

He said the accused was careful to take steps to create an ­apparent source for his case. Selebi’s wife was to have testified about their household expenditure, but she did not.

Nel said that Selebi’s lies made it too difficult for her to testify.

This created the dilemma that the court could not take into account that the accused had his wife’s alleged business profits available to feed his cash hunger.

Insight on payments

Agliotti, throughout his evidence, maintained that he had bought the accused clothing, paid him money and received ­favours and benefits from him.

“Selebi, the most senior police officer in the country and an internationally recognised policeman, must have had – and therefore did have – sufficient ­insight to recognise that this amounted to corruption,” Nel said.

Selebi sharing intelligence information with Agliotti

Selebi showed Agliotti intelligence reports which claimed that the top cop was also on the payroll of mining magnate Brett Kebble.

The UK report

The state argued that Selebi showed Agliotti state secrets and also warned Agliotti that the British authorities were monitoring the alleged drug dealer’s movements.

“In our view this is not the ­conduct of a reasonable head of an organisation which has an ­obligation to protect secret ­information,” Nel said.

On a fair trial
In the state’s words, in a desperate attempt to ­divert attention from the accused’s poor performance in the witness stand and the inevitable rejection of his evidence as a ­deliberate lie, the accused attacked the integrity of the prosecutor as a last resort.

On this Nel said simply: “We argue that the attack on the ­prosecutor cannot assist the ­accused in his defence or even in an argument about fair trial.”

For the defence

Advocate Jaap Cilliers

Questioned the foundation of the state’s investigation of his client, Jackie Selebi, saying it was based on false allegations.
He said his client was being targeted for speaking out against the now defunct Scorpions crime investigative unit and he accused the Scorpions of hatching a plot against Selebi to prevent them from being incorporated into the South African Police Service.
Changes to the charge sheet

He said the state prepared a charge sheet and persisted with it after many years of probably the most intensive investigation in the history of our criminal ­system.

But their case changed dramatically during the evidence of their first main witness, Glenn Agliotti.

This turnaround ­contradicted the very material allegations set out in the charge sheet.

Thus the state either disingenuously made up the allegations without substantiating facts, or the relevant witnesses (including Agliotti) deliberately misled the state; or the witnesses changed their version of events.

Agliotti’s credibility

Glenn Agliotti, whom Selebi once described as “my friend, finish and klaar” was the state’s star witness but he conceded that he was an occasional liar who told people what they wanted to hear.

He destroyed their case by ­insisting he never bribed the ­accused even after the legal ­elements of corruption were ­explained to him.

The state cannot choose which parts of Agliotti’s evidence they like and ask the court to reject the rest.

The evidence of Agliotti, as a single, unsatisfactory and ­unreliable witness cannot be ­accepted as proof.

On the facts of this case the court should find that Agliotti lied.

The state clearly did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused received any gratification for which he had to provide Agliotti with a quid pro quo.

There is no suggestion in the evidence that this was the case in this regard.

Denial of bribery

It is clear that Agliotti’s view throughout that he never bribed the commissioner is clearly the correct approach in terms of South African law. Any advice he may have obtained from any legal representative after the fact to the contrary is clearly wrong.

Sharing the UK reports

Selebi showed Agliotti a copy of a report that was more than two years old when Agliotti had already been exposed in the media as an alleged international drug dealer.

Agliotti would not have benefited nor would justice have been defeated in any way by the passing of information to him.

Sharing intelligence information

Even if one accepts Agliotti’s version that he saw a couple of lines of a document, and that they were part of the National ­Intelligence Estimates draft report, there was still no basis for an argument that it was shown to Agliotti as part of a ­benefit in view of gratification paid to the accused.

The relevance of the discussion between Selebi and Agliotti in this regard was ­motivated by the accused’s ­anger and enquiry as to who was spreading these lies about him.

Accepting Agliotti’s hospitality

Agliotti said the dinners he asked Selebi to attend were just social events and that there was no suggestion of anything untoward or any request for assistance from the accused at these dinners.

There can be no argument that the accused ­defeated the ends of justice by having general and political ­conversations with friends at such dinners.

State’s dilemma

The dilemma of the state and the question that arises is the ­basis on which the state can ­request the court to accept, as proof beyond reasonable doubt, his evidence where it incriminates Selebi, but ­requests the court to reject his evidence where it exculpates the accused.

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