State security again delays top cop corruption trial

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South African Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele is taking his fight to keep former intelligence coordinator Barry Gilder out of the witness box in the corruption trial of former national police chief Jackie Selebi (pictured) to the Constitutional Court.

The ministry argues that forcing Gilder to testify could set a precedent that in time might have serious constitutional ramifications and lead to the compromise of intelligence information.

The Selebi trial was today postponed until March 1, pending a petition by Cwele and head of the State Security Agency, Jeff Maqetuka, to the Constitutional Court.

This comes after the Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed Cwele’s application for leave to appeal Judge Meyer Joffe’s ruling on Friday various media reports say.

The Mail & Guardian newspaper reports Joffe ruled last year that Gilder, the former head of the national intelligence coordinating committee, was obliged to testify in Selebi’s trial about a draft national intelligence estimate alleging that Selebi was receiving money from murdered mining boss Brett Kebble.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel again said the testimony wanted from Gilder would cover information already in the public domain as several witnesses had already mentioned it in their testimony,the SA Press Association added.

Joffe ruled that Gilder should testify in camera and only be confined to testify about matters he had personal knowledge of. However, Cwele’s legal team argues that intelligence legislation and the Criminal Procedure Act makes provision for intelligence officials not to be subpoenaed to testify and that Gilder can contribute nothing to the state’s case.

The SCA dismissed these arguments and Cwele will now have to convince the Constitutional Court of his case. Joffe ruled that Cwele and Maqetuka should file their papers by next Monday.

An annoyed Joffe said the Selebi trial was being unduly delayed by Cwele’s application. “I’m not sure how long it can be held up … My feeling is that this trial can’t be held up indefinitely”.