Selebi to hear sentence in Aug

Johannesburg - Those poised to hear what sentence former police chief Jackie Selebi would receive after being found guilty of corruption were disappointed when Wednesday's sentencing procedures were postponed until August because not all the character witnesses were available.

However, Judge Meyer Joffe agreed to an order that R230 722.38 worth of his assets might be confiscated when the appeal process is finalised.

On July 2 Selebi was found guilty of corruption but in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act he may have to pay R230 722.38.

According to the order, the value of his unlawful activities was R166 286.64 and the increased amount takes into account subsequent fluctuations in the value of the money.

Selebi arrived almost unnoticed through a side door of the court, usually reserved for policemen and interpreters, and strolled to his, by now, familiar seat on a wooden bench at the top of the steps coming up from the holding cells.

He has not had to suffer the ignominy of walking up the windblown concrete steps as he is out on a warning and was never technically arrested, presenting himself to court by agreement for his very first appearance on the matter in 2008.

The public and journalists were subjected to body searches ahead of the start of the case and also had to abandon their scalding hot coffees, with a security official explaining that such things were more dangerous during sentencing.

Character witness

The first witness to take the stand ahead of sentencing was a former police commissioner Denn Alberts, who spoke glowingly of Selebi as a "hands on" person, as he was led by Selebi's counsel Jaap Cilliers.

Selebi would arrive at roadblocks unannounced "just to have a look", tour police stations, phone commanders and demand to know why their police cars were not on the road and visible.

He once complained there were no lights in the women's toilets at the Alexandra taxi ranks, but on the other side, where the taxis were, there were lights. This bothered him because he was worried that women using the toilets could be raped.

He was focused against crime and, said Alberts, "I have the greatest respect for him... He was an exceptional leader."

They disagreed from time to time, on one occasion on whether the police's specialised units should be disbanded.

"He said, 'convince me'," said Alberts.

Selebi's office door was always open and there was no need to make an appointment a week in advance to speak to him.

He sometimes displayed a different approach to what the old hands were used to.

Once, ahead of an Easter weekend, he insisted that roadblocks begin two weeks before the usual traffic influx, instead of starting on the first day of the long weekend.

"It seemed strange... but we were surprised that it was a good success."

'Seriously against crime'

Said Alberts: "My personal opinion, is that he was a person who was very popular because he was seriously against crime."

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel, looking a lot more relaxed than when judgment was read, began by painting a picture of the pride a policemen takes on wearing his uniform and carrying out his duties, which Alberts agreed with.

He then drew on a case where over 20 people were arrested in 2000 and quoted Alberts as slamming corruption at the time.

Alberts would not be drawn on the specifics of Selebi's case, but said: "Corruption is totally unacceptable."

In response to questioning from Nel, he said he had never seen Selebi provide so much as lunch to police officers on duty, but he had seen him provide equipment such as bulletproof vests.

Alberts was discharged from the witness stand after Joffe asked him if he thought honesty was an important characteristic for a person as the head of the police, to which Alberts said it was "exceptionally important".

As no more witnesses were immediately available, the case was adjourned, with Selebi making his usual photographer-surrounded walk out of the court building and into the BMW waiting for him in Pritchard Street.

As he sped off, refugees at the nearby Central Methodist church amused themselves by play-acting television reports next to the satellite vans of media houses that had hoped to beam out the sentence handed to the former president of Interpol.

A National Prosecuting Authority official said ahead of the case that they were entitled to ask for a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.
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