Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2007-09-26 Reporter: Sapa

Report : Mbeki to Act Against Selebi



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President Thabo Mbeki is about to act against police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi, the Cape Argus reported on Tuesday.

It is believed Mbeki is about to order an inquiry into allegations that Selebi, also the head of Interpol, had links with crime syndicates, the newspaper said.

Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga is accompanying the president to the current United Nations General Assembly in New York, and declined to comment, referring enquiries to government communications head Themba Maseko. However, the latter was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Citing independent sources, the Argus said the inquiry into the claims against Selebi would be Mbeki's second major step following the suspension on Monday of National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Vusi Pikoli.

Apparently, the third step would be a probe into private companies owned by apartheid-era security operators contracted by the police and Scorpions to do investigations.

On Monday, government spokesperson Temba Maseko said an irretrievable breakdown in the working relationship between Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Brigitte Mabandla and Pikoli was the reason for his suspension.

"The relationship breakdown had adverse implications for the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] and the functioning of the criminal justice system," he said.

An inquiry, appointed by Mbeki, will look into the functioning and role of Pikoli before the president will decide on his future.

Clearing the air

A source told the Argus Mbeki is keen to clear the air about Selebi, whom he has been seen to be protecting since the syndicate allegations arose.

Selebi has denied having links to shadowy individuals who, in turn, have been linked to murdered businessman Brett Kebble. These links have been extensively investigated by the Mail & Guardian (read special report).

The Argus said it understood that a file, compiled by a private security company on behalf of the Scorpions, is to be handed over to acting national director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe -- who took over from Pikoli.

Mpshe will then decide whether there is a prima facie case against Selebi, and, if there is, a full independent investigation will be ordered. The probe will be headed by a judge, because both the police and Scorpions will be unacceptable -- given that Selebi heads the police and the Scorpions' credibility is in question following Pikoli's suspension.

According to the sources, Mbeki acted against Pikoli because of his failure to control the Scorpions, the Argus said.

On November 9 last year, Mbeki rejected a call by the Freedom Front Plus for a judicial commission of inquiry into claims against Selebi. The allegations related to suggestions of a relationship between South Africa's top cop and businessman Glenn Agliotti, who was arrested in November for the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble.

Mbeki said at the time he was certain Selebi would continue to work with the diligence, dedication and selflessness he had shown since his appointment.

On November 20, Mbeki told religious leaders to trust what he had done on the controversy around Selebi. This was after the church leaders had suggested a commission of inquiry into the relationship between Selebi and Agliotti.


Meanwhile, the Director General in the Presidency, Frank Chikane, said on Tuesday that a breakdown of the personal relationship between Mabandla and Pikoli did not lead to the latter's suspension by Mbeki.

Chikane was speaking after a meeting at the Union Buildings between himself, acting president and Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri and representatives of all the political parties represented in Parliament.

He said the Presidency had wanted to hold the meeting on Monday, before it made the announcement that Mbeki had suspended Pikoli.

It was a not a personal relationship breakdown that led to Pikoli's suspension, but rather that "something had gone wrong" in the exercise of reporting to the minister in terms of the Constitution.

Political parties who attended the meeting said they appreciated the courtesy of the Presidency in informing them of the suspension but that they were no clearer about the reasons for it.

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 With acknowledgements to Sapa and Mail and Guardian.