Selebi - an insider's story


Jackie Selebi was recently found guilty of corruption for accepting R1,2 million from convicted criminals in exchange for turning a blind eye to their dealings. KAIZER NGWENYA recalls a Jackie Selebi from a different era - a man who taught him history, allowed boys to smoke in class and shunned all forms of authority

OVER the years I have followed Selebi’s career with interest, watching as he climbed from rank to rank until he was top of the cop pile in South Africa and, lo and behold, head of the international police organisation Interpol.

But then stories started emerging that he was bad news - that he was in cahoots with the likes of convicted drug dealer and suspected organised crime boss Glenn Agliotti.

As the tales abounded, I called a couple of my old classmates from Musi High in Pimville, Soweto. “I’m not surprised,” one said. “This is like Jackie. Remember, he loved mafia stories.”

This is true. One of his favourite books was Honour Thy Father, the biography of Joe “Bananas” or “Crazy Joe” Bonanno, the New York City boss of the Bonanno mafia family.

How do I know this? Well, Jackie Selebi was my history teacher back in the 1960s when I was in matric and he was a young guy just starting out in life. The classroom wasn’t the first place I met Jackie, though. When he was still a student he had a holiday job selling books at Via Africa bookstore in Westgate, downtown Jozi.

Word spread he could cut you a deal and my friends and I would wait for him in a dark passage behind the bookstore where he would sell us setwork books and stationery at discount prices. Seems even then he had an eye for an easy buck . . .

After he graduated he got a job at Musi High teaching history under department head Colbert Cokile. Jackie was fat, wore his hair in a bold Afro and dressed in tight-fitting jackets and trousers and brown Florsheim boots.

Read the full article in the YOU of 15 July 2010.

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