Selebi prison reprieve

05 December 2011 - 02:09 By KHETHIWE CHELEMU and MCKEED KOTLOLO
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Jackie Selebi's lawyers are heading for the office of the registrar of the Johannesburg High Court this morning to ask that his bail be extended because, they say, he is too sick to go to jail.

The disgraced former national police commissioner, who is out on bail of R20000, was to have reported to Johannesburg prison at 10am yesterday to begin his 15-year sentence for corruption.

But Selebi, 61, was admitted to Jacaranda Hospital, Pretoria, on Friday, shortly after collapsing at his home in the wealthy suburb of Waterkloof.

The former chief of international policing agency Interpol collapsed after the Supreme Court of Appeals dismissed his appeal against his conviction and sentence. He was given 48 hours in which to report to prison, which expired at 10am yesterday.

Selebi's lawyer, Wynanda Coetzee, said yesterday that she would ask the registrar for a bail extension.

But she would not confirm reports that Selebi had had a stroke and would need surgery.

"I cannot confirm that it is a stroke. We are waiting to get a report from his permanent specialist," she said.

But Hawks spokesman MacIntosh Polela said on Twitter: "Selebi is not talking coherently and not participating in discussions."

Correctional Services' national commissioner, Tom Monyane, said: "We have to be considerate about this. We cannot incarcerate someone who is unwell."

He said his department could not arrest people who did not comply with a court order.

"We are not an arresting agent; we are an incarceration agent."

He said the department had not received a written submission from Selebi's lawyers or his family.

Coetzee said Selebi's family was distressed by the Appeals Court verdict.

"The family is very stressed, especially his wife, Anne, but they are all worried about his medical condition," said Coetzee.

She denied that Selebi's lawyers had asked the Department of Correctional Services for a seven-day extension to allow him to recover in hospital, saying, "That's news to me."

Sipho George Nene, South Africa's permanent representative at the UN in Geneva, visited Selebi yesterday afternoon, accompanied by Selebi's wife.

Two women, who had arrived earlier, were refused permission to see him by hospital authorities acting on the family's instructions.

When Nene left the hospital he refused to talk to reporters at the hospital's gate.

A short time later, a man believed to be Selebi's cousin arrived with other relatives and, on seeing the reporters, muttered in Setswana: "Why can't they leave us alone?"

It was reported yesterday that Selebi had had a stroke which caused him to lose sensation in his left side. It was also reported that he had kidney problems and high blood pressure, and was scheduled to undergo surgery in February.

Selebi was convicted of receiving money and gifts from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti, who at the time he referred to as "my friend, finish and klaar".

Apart from paying his medical bills, Agliotti gave Selebi R150000 and an unspecified amount in US dollars, and showered him with expensive gifts and designer clothing.

Agliotti had nothing to say about his former friend's impending incarceration .

"I have got no comment for the press, thank you," he said tersely yesterday.

Making matters worse for Selebi was Assets Forfeiture Unit head Willie Hofmeyr, who said yesterday that now that the appeal was over, Selebi would have to hand over the cash Agliotti gave him, an amount now revised up to R230000.

"We obtained a court order last year in July which stated that Selebi had to pay back the money with 15.5% interest from the date on which the order was made," said Hofmeyr.

Justice Department spokesman Tlali Tlali said the department had begun recovering more than R15-million the state had spent on Selebi's legal costs.

"We're treating the matter as a normal debt-recovery process, which will not start off by demanding [that] assets be attached. Let's not get carried away," Tlali said.

The DA's prisons spokeman, James Selfe, was sceptical about Selebi's medical condition, saying: "We trust Selebi will not contract a sudden case of Schabir Shaik-itis and that his current condition is, in fact, genuine."

Selfe said medical parole was now harder to receive after the amendment of the Correctional Services Act.

  • Selebi vowed: "These hands are clean" in 2006 following a Sunday Times exposé of the inner workings of mafia-style organisations involving senior policemen.

But Johannesburg High Court judge Meyer Joffe described Selebi as an embarrassment to South Africa and the police in his judgment in August last year.

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