Pikoli: Selebi asked about Rautenbach

2009-11-17 13:03

Johannesburg - Former police chief Jackie Selebi asked former prosecutions head Vusi Pikoli why charges against then tax fugitive Billy Rautenbach were not being dismissed, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg heard on Tuesday.

Pikoli and Selebi had arrived together in the Eastern Cape on a police jet for a joint anti-corruption task team visit.

"As I was walking with the accused, he said to me: ‘You guys, why are you not dropping charges against Billy Rautenbach?" Pikoli testified in Selebi's trial on corruption charges.

"I asked him why [he was concerned in the matter]," Pikoli told the court.

Pikoli said Selebi replied that he was in possession of a letter that could cause embarrassment to former chief prosecutor Bulelani Ngcuka and the NPA.

Brushed him off

"I dismissed that because I felt it was not a matter that he should be concerned with. I just brushed him off."

Pikoli said after this incident they did not discuss the matter again.

Rautenbach, who lives in Zimbabwe, spent almost a decade on the run before entering into a plea-sentence agreement with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on tax evasion charges on September 16, just 16 days before the start of Selebi's trial.

Under the deal, Rautenbach, as a director of SA Botswana Hauliers, agreed to pay a fine of R40m on 326 counts of fraud.

Selebi is being tried on a count of corruption and another of defeating the ends of justice in connection with at least R1.2m he allegedly received from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti, Rautenbach and others in return for favours.

Agliotti previously testified that Rautenbach paid him $100 000 (about R743 500) as an alleged bribe for Selebi to assist him with his run-ins with the law.

He said Selebi, who was also president of the international police body Interpol, was to check whether there were any international warrants out for Rautenbach.

Agliotti also testified that he gave Selebi a copy of a letter allegedly written by Ngcuka to Rautenbach's lawyer.

'Mutually beneficial resolution'

In the letter, Ngcuka apparently said he believed there was a real possibility of finding a "mutually beneficial resolution" between Rautenbach and the NPA.

Agliotti alleged that Ngcuka wanted information from Rautenbach on mining rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.

Glaring at Selebi, Pikoli went on to deny ever being summoned by him to account for shares held by his wife - as was alleged in previous testimony.

He was "shocked and angry" about the shares statement. "It’s an absolutely barefaced lie that the accused called me in the office to confront me about the shares held by my wife," he said.

Defence lawyer Jaap Cilliers had told the court that Selebi summoned Pikoli to his office to discuss shares in a black empowerment company with a stake in mining company Simmer and Jack which he claimed were given to Pikloli's wife by Roger Kebble, the father of slain mining magnate Brett Kebble.

Cilliers told the court Pikoli was emotional about the "gratification to his wife from Kebble". "He did not deny that his wife received gratification."

Cilliers then alleged that Selebi told the crime directorate to investigate the matter.

Mbeki informed of Selebi allegations

In other testimony on Tuesday, businessman Jurgen Kogl testified that he told former president Thabo Mbeki about allegations of Selebi receiving corrupt payments.

He said that while conducting a due diligence report into JCI, a company owned by Brett Kebble, he came across persistent allegations of money flowing out of the JCI to Selebi.

He said he consulted legally with advocate Barry Roux who told him to report the matter.

"In the context of that time, I also informed the highest political authorities that I have had this suspicion," said Kogl.

Asked which political authorities he informed, Kogl replied: "[Former Justice] Minister [Penuell] Maduna. President Thabo Mbeki."