Throughout a long day on Tuesday, the erstwhile friends, dressed snappily in expensive suits, did not even glance at one another. By mid-afternoon, prosecutor Gerrie Nel, once arrested on Selebi’s orders, had come to the part where Agliotti was about to confess what Selebi gave him in return for envelopes stuffed with cash and gifts of designer clothes, when the session was adjourned on defence claims that questioning had moved outside the ambit of the charges.
Much of the testimony has already been aired in past years, but new certainties undoubtedly came to light. And the next weeks and months might prise some of Thabo Mbeki’s most cherished skeletons out of the closet, and tease out goodies on Mo Shaik’s new appointment to high office. In coming testimony, Selebi will need to make good on his promise to dish the dirt, as Agliotti confessed that a large number of counterfoils for cash cheques showed monies were paid to “cop” or “chief” or “GAJS”. Selebi claims he is victim of a plot by two former chief prosecutors, Bulelani Ncguka, whom he has now accused of soliciting a bribe from state witness Billy Rautenbach, and Vusi Pikoli. His lawyer has accused them of fabricating evidence against him. You have to wonder when a third force will crop up.
In testimony that will continue to make international law enforcement cringe, Agliotti confirmed he paid R30,000 to Selebi to host a dinner in Paris to lobby for him to become head of Interpol. And all the while, more cash was handed over at Sandton coffee shops and an events company in Midrand.
The names thrown up read like an encyclopaedia of crime – both cops and robbers. Brett Kebble, the murdered mining magnate. Paul Stemmet, Kebble’s former security chief. Former South African corruption czar Willem Heath, who consulted for Kebble. Billy Rautenbach, commodities broker and Hyundai car dealer, friend of Robert Mugabe and former Congo strongman Laurent Kabila, who’s wanted in South Africa on hundreds of counts of fraud, bribery and money laundering when the NPA was under the stewardship of Bulelani Ncguka (whose wife Phumzile was minister of mines around the same time). Kebble confidant and murder accused John Stratton, on the run in Australia from the SAPS. Bulelani Ncguka himself. Interpol, who Selebi once headed. Acting prosecuting boss Mokotedi Mpshe. Clinton Nassif, who was latterly responsible for Kebble’s security after Kebble fired Stemmet (Nassif brought Kebble inside knowledge of SARS, the NPA and SA intelligence services). Even California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver, the niece of John F. Kennedy, have been thrown into the mix for their parts in an Agliotti-Selebi fund raiser in Cape Town for handicapped kids.
After ten years on the run, star state witness Billy Rautenbach has just done a R40 million deal with the NPA that got him off the hook on all charges. During his time as national police commissioner Selebi had approached the prosecuting authority to drop an investigation into Rautenbach because he said he was in possession of a letter that would embarrass the NPA. Now Agliotti has confirmed he once collected $100,000 from Rautenbach and paid Selebi $30,000 of this in exchange for a promise to cancel Rautenbach’s arrest warrant and check whether he was wanted by Interpol. He said he meant to give him $40,000, but didn’t elaborate. He also said Selebi was asked to finesse Rautenbach’s problems with the SA Revenue Service. Selebi, ever a man of style, accepted the money in a Sandton hotel dressed in full police uniform.
The state has told Agliotti he may be indemnified on charges of corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering, defeating the ends of justice and racketeering – charges Selebi is also facing – if he tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So while the case continues to go over much old ground, Agliotti has started to behave as if he has something for which to bargain. He confessed that Brett Keble and his father Roger paid him $1 million for introducing them to Selebi. He said Selebi was paid about R1 million of this in cash in various influential currencies. There were numerous payments during this time, with Selebi often pitching up at Maverick Masupatsela, a company Agliotti was associated with through his one-time fiancée Dianne Muller, to collect the money. Muller’s father Martin Flint, who also worked at Maverick, used to sign cash cheques on Agliotti’s command from funds in a shelf company with an assessed tax loss called Spring Lights. This money was used to pay Selebi amounts that ranged from R5,000 to R200,000, according to Agliotti.
Agliotti said Selebi would arrive in the boardroom on the first floor, sometimes in full police regalia, while his driver waited outside. The money came from Kebble, who paid about R26 million into Spring Lights to get the police to investigate mining company DRD Gold over the arrest on corruption charges of Kebble’s father, Roger, which Brett wanted to avenge.
Subsequently, Agliotti said he and Selebi would often meet at Sandton coffee shops and browse for clothes together. During 2004 and 2005 the SAPS received reports from British authorities about Agliotti’s suspicious dealings and visits to London. They asked the police to launch a criminal investigation. Agliotti said Selebi shared some of these reports with him in a car park at the Makro super store in Woodmead, north of Johannesburg. Selebi claims Agliotti misused his name to obtain money for himself.
Agliotti’s testimony also detailed the early years of his relationship with Selebi by saying the two had met at Shell House in the 1990s when Selebi was minister of social welfare and development . Agliotti said he sympathised with ANC exiles who had returned home destitute and suggested to Selebi they set up a business to import second-hand clothing from Asia to help the returnees. Nothing came of the business, but from the first, he had helped Selebi with one of his son’s medical bills of about R1,000. Around 2000, the two met again in one of the upmarket clothing stores in Sandton City owned by Nelson Mandela’s friend Yusuf Surtee, leading to their involvement in a Special Olympics project called African Hope to help handicapped children. This involved Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver.
The meeting at the clothes shop also led to Selebi becoming involved with an Agliotti confidant Paul Stemmett, who worked for Kebble before being fired, and ran a security company called Palto, which he professed was able to help the police. In his testimony, Agliotti also admitted to being a police informant. He said he was tipped off about a mandrax shipment from China, and, after helping implement a bust worth some R70 million, was eventually paid R100,000 by police after phoning Selebi and asking whether he would be recompensed.
In admitting to this, it sounds more like somebody told Agliotti that he could be implicated in the drug shipment, and then started squeezing large sums of cash from him.
One wonders what SA’s new spy chief Mo Shaik knows of all this.
By Mark Allix
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