Agliotti, Selebi 'were charitable'

2009-10-08 14:56

Johannesburg - Ex-top cop Jackie Selebi and his former friend Glenn Agliotti were "kind-hearted" men involved in charity work while prosecutors were hatching "absurd" plots against them, the South Gauteng High Court heard on Thursday.

This emerged in the cross-examination of Agliotti, testifying in Selebi's graft and defeating the ends of justice case.

Selebi's lawyer Jaap Cilliers started questioning Agliotti on Thursday morning, shortly after he had an emotional breakdown that caused the court the briefly adjourn.

"My Lord, it's not easy being here. I didn't want to be here to testify against my then friend and the accused," a tearful Agliotti said.

Selebi had little sympathy with the man he once called his "friend, finish and klaar", remarking to reporters that Agliotti would "need a box of tissues" during cross examination.

But the highly anticipated cross examination did not cause much fireworks, as Agliotti agreed with almost everything Cilliers put to him. This included that he had been "vilified" by the media and incorrectly portrayed as a "big mafia-type crime leader" but more importantly - that his being charged with mining magnate Brett Kebble's murder was "absurd".

Agliotti vigorously agreed with that, and had to be stopped by Judge Meyer Joffe from answering any more questions on the murder without legal representation.

'Absurd' decisions

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel sat quietly, without making any objections to Cilliers' line of questioning.

On the judge's insistence, Agliotti located his lawyer in the Kebble case and the cross-examination continued with him and Cilliers agreeing about the Scorpions' "absurd" decisions in the murder case.

Both Agliotti and Cilliers lamented the fact that Agliotti was being prosecuted while Kebble's security head, Clinton Nassif, received indemnity.

"I want to indicate the absurdity of the prosecution of Mr Agliotti... and the indemnity of Nassif," Cilliers said.

Cilliers said it was beyond his understanding "the way in which the DSO [Directorate of Special Operations] dealt with the Kebble murder".

To most of these statements, Agliotti responded with "absolutely".

Cilliers claimed the State was delaying the Kebble murder trial with ulterior motives.

"I have the impression, Mr Agliotti, that they keep the sword over your head... the sword... is to force you to testify against the accused, Cilliers said.

"You have had as much difficulty getting [to] court as the accused."

'My lord, it's not easy being here'

Agliotti replied: "That is my impression but I cannot speak for the DSO."

Selebi's being charged with defeating the ends of justice, was "ridiculous", said Agliotti, agreeing with a statement by Cilliers.

Cilliers repeated the allegations that former chief prosecutor Bulelani Ngcuka had tried to solicit a bribe from ex-Hyundai boss Billy Rautenbach, echoing Agliotti earlier in the day. He had said it was his personal opinion that Ngcuka was out to get Selebi because he had wanted to close the Scorpions down.

Agliotti earlier in the day made his feelings towards Nel and the Scorpions clear, and claimed the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) shared his sentiments.

Shortly before breaking down in tears, he said: "My lord, it's not easy being here. I don't particularly like Mr Nel [the State prosecutor] and I say that with respect. I believe the accused doesn't like Mr Nel and I don't think many people that I know like Mr Nel, and I say that with respect."

A while later Agliotti said NIA officials "really did not like your people either", speaking to Nel about the Scorpions.

But Agliotti and Selebi, on the other hand, were both kind-hearted and charitable men, Cilliers said, again to the agreement of Agliotti.

"He [Selebi] regarded you [Agliotti] based on the picture you portrayed that you were actually a very kind-hearted man and that you really involved yourself into welfare issues and charity as well," Cilliers said.

"My instructions are, Mr Agliotti, that is actually the real point where your relationship with the accused developed. He was also a man passionate with helping the needy, helping the refugees, the people who suffer.

"That was really the issue and the accused had in common," said Cilliers.

Agliotti nodded in enthusiastic agreement, no longer sitting with his back toward Selebi.