Thursday, September 16, 2010

Selebi case cost taxpayers R17,4m

16 September 2010, 12:45
By Michelle Pietersen
Political Bureau

Taxpayers have paid R17,4-million in legal fees for former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi's corruption trial in which he was found guilty.

This was revealed by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa in a written reply to a parliamentary question by Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus (FF+).

Mthethwa said a decision to recover the fees could be taken only once the appeal process had been finalised.

Earlier this month, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe confirmed that consideration was being given to the possibility of the State also paying Selebi's legal fees for his appeal.

Department of Justice spokesman Tlali Tlali said the State would decide within the next few days if it would pay for Selebi's appeal cases.

Selebi was found guilty of corruption by Judge Meyer Joffe in the Johannesburg High Court in July and sentenced to 15 years.

Last month, the former top cop won leave to appeal his conviction.

Groenewald said the FF+ had submitted a complaint to the Public Protector to determine whether taxpayers' money had been misappropriated.

"It is clear that the taxpayers have to fork out money for someone found guilty of being a criminal by a high court," said Groenewald.

"The State should not make any further payments for Selebi's appeal cases because it would boil down to a waste of taxpayers' money."

Kgalalelo Masibi, a senior manager at the Public Protector, said the State had agreed to pay for Selebi's legal costs on condition that if he lost his case, he would have to pay the money back.

"If he appeals, the State can continue paying until all remedies have been exhausted. If he still loses the case, he has to pay the State back," said Masibi.

Tlali said: "At the end there must be reasonable prospects to successfully recover all the money used towards payment of legal costs, should the accused be found guilty."

Selebi also indicated that he intended petitioning Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo in a bid to be allowed to appeal against all aspects of his conviction and sentencing.

This followed the September 6 ruling by Judge Joffe that Selebi can appeal against his corruption conviction only in relation to cash payments he received from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti.

Selebi had applied for leave to appeal against the 15-year sentencing; the payments of R30 000 he had received from Agliotti; the unfairness of the trial; and the biased nature with which he said Judge Joffe and the prosecution team had handled the trial.

But the judge ruled that Selebi had "no reasonable prospects to succeed" at the Supreme Court of Appeal on all other aspects of his appeal other than the payments.

"I'm satisfied that, save for one ground, there's no reasonable ground for success.

"The only ground is whether the State has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he received those payments. It's on these grounds that I'm prepared to grant leave to appeal," Judge Joffe ruled.

But Selebi's attorney, Wynanda Coetzee, said her team would petition the Chief Justice to try to appeal more issues.

The date on which the appeal will be heard has not yet been confirmed.

This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Argus on September 16, 2010

The Star

Crime comes cheap.

On conviction a serving/suspended commissioner should lose his pension and pay back

for his trial?

What makes SA different?


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