Former foreign affairs deputy minister Aziz Pahad said on Monday (August 2, 2010) that he was surprised and shocked by the corruption allegations against former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.
“But he is not God, and he can make a mistake,” Pahad told the high court in Johannesburg.
Pahad was giving evidence in mitigation of sentencing of Selebi, who was found guilty of corruption last month.
Pahad and Selebi have known each other since the 1970s, when both worked in ANC underground structures to bring down the apartheid government.
Pahad also worked for Selebi when he was a director-general in the department of foreign affairs.
Selebi managed budgets of millions while in the department and had also obtained funding to bring ANC cadres home from exile.
There had never been any questions about his integrity or concerns over his management of this money, Pahad testified.
Pahad, who is now a researcher at the Institute for Global Dialogue, said if an opinion poll was taken of Selebi in the department and in the ANC, he would have come out as one of the most popular people.
“Jackie was the controlling accounting officer for hundreds of millions of rands. I have never heard of suggestions that there were issues surrounding funding in the department of foreign affairs.”
It was a “tragedy” when Selebi joined the police force because he had helped lift morale in the department of foreign affairs.
During cross-examination, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel wanted to know how Pahad felt after hearing the Selebi judgment.
Pahad said newspaper reports of tender misuse and colonialism “disgusts” him.
Although he expected the court’s judgment against Selebi, he was very surprised by it.
“This is the first accusation that I have heard against him and it goes against everything that I know about him,” Pahad said.
Selebi was found guilty of corruption for receiving payments from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti.