Sunday, January 13, 2008

President Mbeki Appoints Acting National Police Commissioner in South Africa

Mbeki appoints acting police commissioner

Louis Oelofse
Pretoria, South Africa
Mail & Guardian
13 January 2008 07:30

Police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi has been granted an extended leave of absence, President Thabo Mbeki said on Saturday.

Speaking at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Mbeki said Selebi had requested the leave himself.

"I must say that he himself was of the view that it should happen, so that whatever might happen in the courts about him he ought not to be sitting at police headquarters," Mbeki said.

This follows Friday's revelations by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) that it was ready to charge Selebi with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

Mbeki has appointed Timothy Charles Williams, Deputy National Commissioner responsible for Crime Intelligence and Detection, as the acting police National Commissioner.

Mbeki said he held a meeting with the top brass of the South African Police Service (SAPS) on Saturday morning, stressing that police officers should continue their work.

"It was important that police should continue with its work as normal," Mbeki said.

He also gave the assurance that the police would assist the NPA with any request they make in their investigation of Selebi.

"[They must] do whatever is necessary to ensure that indeed the investigation takes its course without hindrance," Mbeki said.

Interpol mum on charges

Meanwhile, Interpol would not comment on the pending criminal charges against Selebi, who is president of the organisation, but would meet with its executive committee in February to discuss the matter, its website said on Saturday.

Interpol said that while it is inappropriate for it to comment on the ongoing investigation, "it should be stated that president Selebi has significantly helped the organisation and its member countries to enhance security and police cooperation worldwide".

ID: Selebi should have resigned

Selebi should have gone one step further and possibly resigned after allegations of criminal activity surfaced two years ago, the Independent Democrats (ID) said on

ID deputy leader Simon Grindrod said: "His position was untenable and possibly he should have gone one step further and resigned completely."

Grindrod said Selebi's continued role as the police boss was having a very serious impact on the critical function of the police and law and order.

"Clearly Selebi's role as president of Interpol is damaging the reputation of our country given the continuing allegations against him," said Grindrod.

The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) welcomed Selebi's leave, saying allegations against Selebi had seriously harmed South Africa, especially its international image.

"Mbeki's judgement with regards to Selebi has failed him and attests of poor governance," said FF+ spokesperson Pieter Groenewald.

Groenewald said the issue should be finalised as soon as possible so that relations between the police and the Scorpions -- the NPA's Directorate of Special Operations -- can return to normal.

Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said Selebi's decision to voluntarily step down was overdue and a welcome announcement.

"The silence on the part of President Thabo Mbeki and the Minister of Safety and Security has been deafening but thankfully the president announced that he has accepted Selebi's offer to vacate his office," she said.

"The latest developments around Jackie Selebi have proven exactly why the Scorpions should never be incorporated with SAPS, where they would have been under the management of the same man they were investigating," she said. - Sapa

South Africa's Selebi quits as Interpol president

Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:41pm GMT
By Mark Trevelyan, Security Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters) - South African police chief Jackie Selebi has resigned as president of Interpol as he fights corruption allegations, the world police organisation said on Sunday.

It said Selebi had stepped down "in the best interests of Interpol and out of respect for the global law enforcement community that it serves".

South African President Thabo Mbeki placed Selebi on extended leave on Saturday, a day after prosecutors said they would charge the police chief with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering. Selebi denies any wrongdoing.

The scandal comes against the background of political tension in South Africa, where Jacob Zuma -- Mbeki's rival who defeated him in a bruising battle for the leadership of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) -- will be tried for corruption later this year.

Selebi has long enjoyed Mbeki's backing, but said in his resignation letter to Interpol he had asked the president for extended leave "so that I can devote my energies to clearing my name".

He said he was stepping down with regret because "I do not wish the allegations that have been levelled against me to bring the good work of this august body into disrepute".

In a statement following a series of urgent meetings since Friday, Interpol said the allegations against him had nothing to do with the organisation or with Selebi's position as its head.


Secretary General Ronald Noble said that in his experience, Selebi "has always conducted himself and acted in a way to enhance global security and police co-operation worldwide".

Noble said corruption was one of the most serious offences a police official could be accused of.

"Interpol believes that any such allegations should be prosecuted thoroughly, and the proper manner is for charges to be brought promptly before a court of law and not through media leaks and speculation," he added.

A copy of Selebi's indictment, made available to the media by prosecutors, covers a range of charges that include receiving payments from his friend Glenn Agliotti, a convicted drug smuggler accused of playing a role in the 2005 murder of a South African mining magnate.

The indictment said between 2000 to 2005 Selebi received at least 1.2 million rand (91,000 pounds) from Agliotti and his associates, including 30,000 rand from Agliotti a day or two after magnate Brett Kebble was killed.

The period in question overlaps with his tenure at Interpol, where Selebi became president in 2004. He was elected to the post by its general assembly, which brings together delegates from all member states worldwide.

The president is not in charge of Interpol's day-to-day running but presides over meetings of the assembly and executive committee and plays a major role in setting direction and strategy. Selebi's four-year term was due to end this year.

(Editing by Caroline Drees)

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