Selebi trial: Top National Intelligence Agency witness to be heard in camera
- Branko Brkic
- 24 May 2017 02:00 (South Africa)
On Tuesday, Judge Meyer Joffe heard heads-of-argument from the prosecution and counsel for state witness, Barry Gilder, a former head of national intelligence coordination, over whether Gilder was a compellable witness in the Jackie Selebi trial, and whether his testimony would be admissible in court.
The judge came out in favour of crucial aspects of South Africa's Constitution dealing with freedom of information by setting aside a request (made in an affidavit) by the minister for state security, Siyabonga Cwele, that no evidence relating to a draft National Intelligence Estimate from 2005 be heard at all.
Joffe ruled that evidence relating to a paragraph in the report was admissible in camera, according to strict guidelines in respect of state security, the public interest and in the interests of affording the accused a fair trial. It is alleged by the state that the relevant paragraph indicates that businessman and state witness, Jurgen Kogl, claimed that the Kebble family had paid Selebi sums of cash while doing a due diligence on Maverick, a company owned by Glenn Agliotti's former fiancée, Dianne Muller.
The paragraph was allegedly excised from the final NIE report. And Gilder subsequently wrote an apology to Selebi.
A National Intelligence Estimate provides the state and cabinet with likely intelligence outlooks, and anyone involved in its production (and all other aspects of intelligence work) is legally prohibited from relating any aspect of their work to a person outside the ambit of their job.
But Judge Joffe ruled that, while the National Intelligence Act precluded persons, it did not have the same effect on a court, and set Cwele's request aside.
The court will resume on Tuesday next week, ostensibly to hear Gilder in camera. Advocate Marumo Moerane for Gilder will in the meanwhile revert to Cwele, who may want to review his request. This could seriously delay the trial, possibly by three months, and may cause the state to seek other means by which to put the evidence on record.
By Mark Allix
Photo: Mark Allix