Former national police chief Jackie Selebi was the victim of a conspiracy cooked up by ex-chief prosecutors Bulelani Ngcuka and Vusi Pikoli, the high court in Johannesburg heard on Monday.
Selebi pleaded not guilty on Monday morning as his long-awaited corruption trial finally started.
Selebi, dressed in a grey suit, solemnly stood, as the charges against him were read out in court. “I plead not guilty,” said Selebi, to all counts.
His lawyer, Jaap Cilliers, told the court Selebi was the victim of a plot against him.
Cilliers said Selebi’s evidence would show that Ngcuka, and his successor, Pikoli, plotted with alleged criminals to fabricate evidence against Selebi.
Cilliers said Ngcuka allegedly offered to drop charges against ex-Hyundai boss Billy Rautenbach — who recently made a deal with the state on tax evasion charges — in return for Rautenbach to testify against Selebi.
Cilliers also alleged that Pikoli’s wife had received “gratification” from slain mining boss Brett Kebble. He said Selebi had warned Pikoli that he would be investigated for this.
After Cilliers read out the summary of Selebi’s defence, the state requested a postponement to Tuesday.
Selebi is facing two charges of corruption and one of defeating the ends of justice relating to payments he allegedly received from Rautenbach, Kebble and his associate Glenn Agliotti, who is accused of murdering Kebble.
The investigation started in 2006 and Selebi first presented himself to court in 2008.
Judge Meyer Joffe warned the State during Selebi’s last appearance in May that he would not tolerate any further delays. “Let there be no misunderstanding in that regard,” Joffe told state prosecutor Gerrie Nel.
The Star newspaper reported on Monday that his prosecutors had more than doubled the list of potential witnesses against him, which included Agliotti, Rautenbach, Selebi’s alleged girlfriend, Nontombi Matshoba, and acting prosecuting boss Mokotedi Mpshe.
Agliotti is expected to be the first witness in a trial that had been set down for five weeks. The case was postponed until 9.15am on Tuesday. — Sapa