Selebi Warrant : Did it Lead to Pikoli Axing?
The Scorpions have been planning to arrest National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi for at least three months.
And it is believed that National Prosecuting Authority boss Vusi Pikoli's decision to pursue Selebi may have been the final step that led to his suspension.
Now, a week after Pikoli is understood to have obtained the arrest warrant against Selebi and amid a flurry of denial from police and state authorities, it remains unclear whether anything will come of Pikoli's efforts.
The Star has reliably learnt that Scorpions investigators were planning to arrest Selebi as long as three months ago, but, following interventions by President Thabo Mbeki, they backed off.
In May, it was reported that Mbeki had to convene a mediation meeting between Pikoli and Selebi after a stand-off between the Scorpions and the commissioner.
The president was brought in after Selebi refused the Scorpions access to files and documents held by the SAPS's Crime Intelligence Unit.
This past Sunday, the Scorpions again allegedly tried to conduct a raid at various premises related to their probe into Selebi, but again they were thwarted from doing so by the highest levels of government.
Several sources said the charges for which Selebi was being investigated included crimes linked to individuals allegedly connected to mining magnate Brett Kebble's murder - which occurred exactly two years ago - as well as several organised-crime activities.
Selebi, however, said last night that he did not know anything about the warrant issued for his arrest. His spokesperson, Director Sally de Beer, said the commissioner was "going about his business and does not appear to have any anxiety about any possible arrest".
Acting National Prosecuting Authority chief Mokotedi Mpshe on Thursday night said of the warrant: "I can't comment. I can't say we do or we don't."
Democratic Alliance spokesperson Dianne Kohler Barnard said that if a warrant of arrest had been issued, "the NPA believes there is sufficient evidence against him to prosecute him in a court of law".
The public had a right to expect an arrest from the NPA, and if it was not forthcoming, "it will become quite clear that advocate Pikoli's suspension was as a direct result of his decision to pursue and prosecute the commissioner", she said.
The DA also said that if a warrant had indeed been issued, Selebi should step down and Mbeki, who suspended Pikoli, must explain why he did not disclose this information while making the decision.
The latest controversy surrounding Selebi comes almost a year since the commissioner called a press conference to claim he was not the don of a "cop mafia" and had no links to the criminal underworld.
In November last year, Selebi announced: "These hands are clean. I am not involved in any criminality."
The statement came after months of damning reports in newspapers linking him to shadowy characters, the most prominent of which was Agliotti. Selebi has repeatedly claimed that Glenn Agliott, who is scheduled to appear in court next week in connection with Kebble's murder, was nothing more than a friend.
But news reports have, over the months, painted Selebi's relationship with Agliotti as something far more sinister.
"I do know Agliotti. The only thing I did with him was work on the Special Olympics promotion when Arnold Schwarzenegger (governor of California) was here," Selebi said at the press conference.
The Mail & Guardian newspaper has run a series of articles centred around Selebi and the NPA's investigations into the top cop's association with a shadowy network of figures associated with Kebble.
According to the newspaper, the NPA's investigations had revealed a web of relationships connecting Selebi to Clinton Nassif - Kebble's former security boss, who stands accused of fraud and who is also rumoured to have turned state witness in the Kebble murder investigation - and Agliotti.
The paper claimed Selebi had met Agliotti at a number of restaurants and casinos and had gone shopping with him. Selebi has denied this.
Selebi, according to the paper, was also linked to a controversial security firm called the Palto private security network, which freelanced for the police. The firm allegedly committed the dirty work for Agliotti and others, allegedly while under the protection of Selebi.
Independent Democrats president Patricia de Lille says the speculation about why Pikoli was suspended could be reaching an end.
"The pieces of the puzzle are beginning to come together," she said, adding that the inquiry into Pikoli's suspension "must proceed so that we can see what are the reasons that led to the so-called 'irretrievable breakdown' of the relationship between Pikoli and the Minister of Justice, Bridgette Mabandla.
"The NPA has the right to prosecute anyone - we are all equal before the law."
With acknowledgements to Karyn Maughan, Shaun Smillie, Alex Eliseev, Wendy Jasson da Costa and Cape Times.