Johannesburg – Former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi’s relationship with convicted drug lord Glenn Agliotti, which ended with a criminal conviction and a 15-year jail sentence, was an intelligence operation authorised by the country’s intelligence bosses at the time.
This startling claim is expected to be part of new evidence and affidavits that will form the basis of an application to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to review Selebi’s case.
Former crime intelligence boss Mulangi Mphego told The Sunday Independent this week there was a grave injustice in the way Selebi was tried. Evidence had been “suppressed” and ignored to secure Selebi’s conviction.
Mphego’s claims were independently corroborated by two former intelligence bosses, who declined to be named as they remained in service.
According to Mphego, Selebi had been tasked by the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee to pursue a relationship with Agliotti as he had been identified as a suspect in extortion, money-laundering and drug-related crimes.
The committee is responsible for co-ordinating intelligence gathered by the country’s intelligence agencies and interpreting it for the cabinet and the president.
The committee comprised the heads of intelligence agencies, and Mphego sat on it as the head of police crime intelligence.
“We had a crime intelligence project under way that targeted Glenn Agliotti as a suspect for money laundering, drugs and extortion.
“We then agreed, at that level, that we are going to task the national commissioner to have a relationship with this fellow, Agliotti.
“They had established a relationship while Jackie was responsible for the repatriation programme of the ANC.
“(Agliotti) came to donate shoes, and that’s when they developed a relationship with Jackie. There is nothing that Jackie did with Agliotti that was not recorded.
“There is not a single day that he had an interaction with Agliotti that was not authorised at that level,” said Mphego.
Asked why he was only coming forward with this information now, Mphego said he had been “neutralised” by the NPA, and his evidence suppressed.
He said he was listed at number 99 on the state witness list, dropped from the list and then charged in order to prevent him from testifying for the defence.
“When they realised that I was going to tell the truth, they decided that they could not let me speak because they did not want the truth. They charged me on a non-existent charge,” said Mphego.
The sensational claims from the former security bosses came in the week when a succession of ANC heavyweights questioned the way Selebi’s investigation was conducted, pledging the truth would come out one day.
One of them, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte told mourners “the truth would set the memory of Selebi free”.
“The truth will set not only commissioner Jackie free, but the entire country free. The notion that he was a corrupt cop cannot hold.”
Former president Thabo Mbeki also weighed in on the matter on Saturday through a message that was read out on his behalf at Selebi’s funeral.
He referred to a newspaper article that quoted Agliotti saying that the Scorpions had used him to get to Selebi.
Mbeki said: “The newspaper quoted Agliotti as having said: ‘In fact, when the Scorpions took me in the foyer of my own house, the officer said ‘I’m arresting (you) for the murder of Brett Kebble’ and then said ‘but if you give up (then top cop Jackie) Selebi, we’ll give you a section 204 (immunity).’ I asked ‘if I do, who are you going to arrest for killing Kebble then?’.”
“That’s how obvious the whole plot was. It was never about me. It was never about Kebble. It was about a feud between one law enforcement agency wanting to bring down the most powerful policeman in Africa,” Agliotti said.
Mbeki urged the NPA to investigate how the Selebi investigation was conducted.
“It is my fervent hope that the NPA does indeed carry out an honest and thorough investigation into this matter and not bury it simply because Jackie would have been buried,” said Mbeki.
Former head of the NPA’s Integrity Management Unit, Prince Mokotedi, has also accused the NPA of failing to release a report which he says contains adverse information about the conduct of the investigators and prosecutors handling the Selebi matter.
Mokotedi first made the claim on social media shortly after Selebi’s death, calling on the NPA to make the alleged report public.
This week, he told The Sunday Independent he was convinced there was evidence that was “suppressed” which, if it had been presented to a judge, would have led to Selebi not being convicted.
“I was not part of the committee that looked into the matter at the NPA because I was conflicted because I had testified for Selebi during the trial. However, I can confirm that there was even an affidavit of a former investigator in the case who says there was critical evidence withheld, which could have led to a different ruling by a judge,” said Mokotedi.
A group of Selebi’s closest aides known as the Friends of Jackie Selebi said they would this week make an application to the NPA to launch a review of Selebi’s case.
This is the same group that launched the successful bid to have Selebi granted medical parole and released from prison in 2012. Spokesman Isaack Lesole said they had sufficient information to make the application and were in “intense consultations” to finalise it.
“There are a number of things that happened, especially during the gathering of evidence. Those leading the prosecution were engineering a particular outcome.
“We believe there is enough basis for a review.
“It is unfortunate that it is happening posthumously but we have been working on it for some time. It has to be done,” said Lesole.