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Death of South Africa’s first black police commissioner

- Staff Reporter

The first black police commissioner died after being convicted of fraud. he was released on medical parole. his conviction, and sentence was greeted with disbelief and in other quarters with relief.
Jacob Sello Selebi a former Umkhonto We Sizwe Commander, a former Diplomat, an African National Congress member, and the first Black National Commissioner of the South African Police was known as Jackie Selebi. His death marks the end of an era . His funeral was on Saturday 31 January 2015.

In more than 200 formal interviews and informal meetings that I had with JackieSelebi he revealed to me details that were never revealed to anyone in the past about his accusers, the state witnesses, the lead prosecutor and other people involved in the saga thatwas designed to have him at the centre stage.His approach to me was open, honest and clear. He was credible in his version of events as I was personally aware of many of some of the incidents that he related. He spoke to me in confidence as his comrade.

He also revealed information and details about former President Thabo Mbeki, former President Kgalema Mothlanthle and President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. The information he revealed displayed a very deep understanding of the realities confronting South Africa, law enforcement, conditions of employment of civil service personnel , salary scales especially of those tasked with law enforcement activities, the influx of illegal immigrants into the country, human trafficking and related matters, the developing polarisation of some people within the country, factors that would lead to further instability and possible chaos and some solutions to these deep seated ills that bedevilled out country.

Jackie had an ability to find life amusing in spite of all the allegations levelled against him by primarily white people. He stated that many of them were very uncomfortable in his presence and even more so due to the various prominent positions he held. It was clear that he was appointed to those positions because he had the capacity and ability to function in those positions he held.

When the first allegations were made?????????

This was a matter in which many factors had to be considered. Jackie was in fact the first black person to be appointed as the National Commissioner of the police in South Africa. His appointment was not welcomed by a certain sector of the South African community whilst others welcomed, then President Thabo Mbeki’s appointment of him with delight.

At the time of his appointment the political situation in South Africa was still very fluid as it is now. Many opposing interests were at play within the ruling party and in all other parties external to it. Each opposing interested party tried to obtain the maximum advantage in every respect.

With this political, social and economic climate it was not surprising that vested interested parties attempted to discredit the ANC government by attacking the first black national police commissioner.

Jackie Selebi was subsequently accused of corruption by a certain white male. A law enforcement unit that was known as the Scorpions began an active investigation into the allegations. This unit was housed in and reported to the National Prosecuting Authority.

Consequently Jackie Selebi was charged with corruption and was convicted by a High Court in the Gauteng province-

In this instance the Judge was a white male, the prosecutor was a white male, the person that made the initial allegation was a white male, and the main witnesses were white males and a white female.

The investigators were white males.

He appealed his sentence and conviction to the Supreme Court of Appeal and his appeal was turned down.

At the time of the announcement by the Supreme court of Appeal that Jackie’s appeal; had been turned down the writer was with Jackie Selebi in his home with four other people.

Jackie’s legal representatives were in another part of the house.

Jackie did not smoke publicly however on that day he smoked more than 30 cigarettes within 2 hours. He was clearly tense and even though he kept up a very brave appearance the announcement came as a shock to him and he collapsed. An ambulance was summoned and he was taken into hospital where he was admitted.

He was a sick man and yet when he was released on parole certain journalists especially from the white community questioned every aspect of his stay in the prison hospital. When he was released on medical parole again the same journalists attacked the Minister responsible for prisons and the same journalists demanded all sorts of proof of his illness. The fact that the medical records of people are supposed to remain confidential did not deter many people from demanding full sight of them.

Having stipulated all the above it was indeed Jackie Selebi that presided over the disbanding of all specialized units within the police. His rationale was that the specialized unit personnel had to be deployed at station level and they would bring their expertise within each police station. This may appear to be sound reasoning but upon closer scrutiny it is obvious that this decision was irrational, it was without direction, it was clearly without any merit in fulfilling the mandate of the South Africa Police which is to ” prevent crime, investigate crimes, and to protect the country and its citizens.

Specialized police personnel were sent to various police stations without any resources, without any support, without any authority to continue with everyday policing activities. As a result of this bizarre decision in one decision of Jackie Selebi South Africa lost all its expertise and criminals were not slow to realize and understand this calamity. South Africa was widely recognized by the international criminal fraternity as a very vulnerable target as a transit country, as a destination country and as a source country for all types of criminal activity.

All types of crimes rose in numbers and the situation is still the same today.

If the Minister of Police reintroduces the specialized units within the police the rate of crime will definitely drop.



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