A convicted drug smuggler gave envelopes stuffed with cash to former South African police chief Jackie Selebi and bought expensive handbags for his wife and secretary, a court was told yesterday.
Glenn Agliotti, who faces trial separately in connection with the murder of a mining tycoon, said at Selebi’s corruption trial that he also purchased luxury clothes and shoes for the one-time president of global law enforcement agency Interpol.
“When the accused and I met, I enjoyed shopping and so did he. Him being my friend, I would instruct shop attendants to put all the clothes on my account,” said Agliotti.
Selebi, who was a leading anti-apartheid activist and well connected in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), has pleaded not guilty to corruption charges and says he is the victim of a conspiracy. While acknowledging his friendship with Agliotti, he has denied any wrongdoing.
Selebi, who once declared at a news conference “these hands are clean”, is the latest senior ANC member to allege state institutions are being used against him for political motives.
President Jacob Zuma, Mbeki’s rival, has vowed to stamp out corruption and named a new tough-talking police chief in July.
Prosecutors allege Selebi, a former ambassador to the UN, had links to organised crime and received about 1.2 million rand to turn a blind eye to drug trafficking.
Agliotti said he first met Selebi in 1990 at the ANC’s headquarters when Selebi headed its social welfare division.
“Selebi indicated to me that he had his own problems and a medical bill that he needed to pay for one of his kids at the time. I gave him the money,” said Agliotti.
“Initially I would pay from my own money. I would put it in an envelope. It was small amounts R5000 and R10 000,” said Agliotti, who in exchange for his testimony was offered amnesty on charges including fraud, theft and money laundering.
He also spoke of “two big payments” of R200 000 and R120 000, stuffed in envelopes and handed to Selebi.
“For the accused’s wife’s birthday, I wanted to buy her a Louis Vuitton handbag from Sandton (shopping mall) a red patent one, (a) particular one cost R10 000. (The) accused’s wife came with me,” said Agliotti.
Selebi’s secretary received a Gucci bag as a gift, and he was given Louis Vuitton shoes from Hong Kong, he said.
Agliotti said he did not want Selebi to feel left out when he bought shoes at London department store Harrods. “I bought shoes for myself and I wanted him to have it too,” he said.
Agliotti has been charged in connection with the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble, shot gangland-style in his luxury car in 2005. He goes on trial in 2010.
Agliotti, who local media say was dubbed “the landlord” behind a drug syndicate, said he met Selebi again in 2000 after the latter was appointed the first black national police commissioner. Agliotti told the court they spent time together at an upmarket Johannesburg shopping mall.
“We frequented Sandton City, where he and I were shopping. Often it was Jackie and myself, or Jackie and his wife, my fiancée and I,” said Agliotti.
Some 30 senior government and police officials are expected to take the stand at Selebi’s trial.
Pic: Former SA Police Commisioner- Jakie Selebi