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24 May 2017 04:23 (South Africa)
Politics

Selebi trial: Top National Intelligence Agency witness to be heard in camera

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

  • Politics
barry gilder 002

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

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

  • Politics

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