Selebi loses his cool in court

2010-04-15 22:37

Johannesburg - Former police commissioner Jackie Selebi testified for the first time in his corruption trial in the South Gauteng High Court on Thursday and denied involvement in corrupt activities.

Selebi is accused of defeating the ends of justice by receiving large sums of money from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti in return for favours.

Selebi said he would "never sell his soul for money".

"I have never received money in order to act in a certain way... I have never asked for money from anyone and I'm not guilty of anything.

"Money has never been the centre of my life... I lived in exile without a salary."

He denied asking Agliotti for money to get medical assistance for one of his children, labelling his former friend a compulsive liar.

"That's a blue lie. Agliotti is the type of person who, when I tell him I'm a born-again Christian, he will go around saying 'I invited Jackie to meet God'."

Not a Fubu fan

Selebi further denied Agliotti's claim he bought clothing from fashion label Fubu for him or his children, saying he would never be caught wearing "baggy clothing".

"If I wanted clothing, I will go to a shop called Grays (a luxury clothing store in Sandton). My children do not wear Fubu... I don't wear Fubu. I will be regarded as a mad man should I wear that.

"If I wore Fubu people will say this case has made Jackie to lose his mind."

Agliotti was merely a police informant who tipped him off about white-collar crime.

"He's like an encyclopaedia... if you went to him and said 'who is John Almond?', he'll give you more information than you intended to get.

"When he said he wanted to see me I knew it would be information I needed that I would then pass on to relevant authorities," Selebi said.

How they met

The two men first met in the early 1990s when Selebi worked for an organisation that repatriated exiled South Africans.

"I met a lot of people who approached me and said we can help... one of those was Glenn. He said he was involved in the import/export business and could help supply clothing to the exiled South Africans who were returning to the country."

Agliotti had suggested importing second-hand clothes from Japan for the exiles.

The suggestion, Selebi said, was "fantastic at the time". However nothing came of it as somebody told Selebi he could not possibly expect clothing from Japan to fit South Africans.

The former top cop also denied throwing a R30 000 dinner in Paris, France to lobby Interpol delegates to vote for him to become Interpol president.

"There was no such (a) dinner," he said.

Trial by media

He lost his cool when his lawyer Jaap Cilliers took him through a National Prosecuting Authority dossier which implied he had links to a syndicate involved in smuggling drugs, cigarettes, cigars, stolen car parts and human trafficking in 2006.

"I'm getting agitated... I prayed that I will not get agitated by these matters so please bear with me," said Selebi, gesturing with his hands and tapping the witness stand with his fingers.

He said Paul O'Sullivan, the man who had taken him to court saying he was responsible for his sacking as airports security head, had a vendetta against him. Selebi said he had made his intentions clear and made it known he would "have a trial of Selebi by the media".

"Yes, he (O'Sullivan) participated (in putting together the dossier). He took statements from witnesses."

So obsessed with Selebi was O'Sullivan that he travelled all the way to Morocco, where Selebi was attending an Interpol conference, to "chain himself to something and declare to the whole world that he was fired by Jackie Selebi at OR Tambo International Airport".

While listening to this, O'Sullivan sat in the public gallery of court 4B, laughing and smiling mockingly at the former police chief.

The trial continues on Friday.