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Disgraced former police commissioner Jackie Selebi – serving a 15-year prison sentence for corruption – was never discharged from the police service, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has revealed.
Responding to a written parliamentary question from DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, Mthethwa revealed on Wednesday that Selebi’s employment contract was simply allowed to lapse on August 1, 2009, and that the convicted fraudster was never officially kicked out of the service.
This means that Selebi has continued to draw a pension and other state-funded benefits as though he resigned or was honourably discharged from the police.
Kohler Barnard reacted angrily to the revelation on Wednesday, saying: “He (Selebi) is in jail getting a huge, fat pension and medical aid. It is shocking. He should have been given a dishonourable discharge. Protecting an ANC cadre – that’s what this is all about.”
Mthethwa’s parliamentary response also points a finger at President Jacob Zuma as the person who would be “responsible for actioning his discharge”. Asked when Selebi would be officially discharged, Mthethwa said “his contract already expired”.
“(Selebi) is receiving normal retirement benefits from the Government Pension Administration Agency as he contributed to the fund and is therefore entitled to the subsequent benefits. He is also receiving the normal Polmed (police medical aid) benefits applicable to a pensioner,” said Mthethwa.
He said the extent of the benefits was confidential.
Former president Thabo Mbeki did not suspend his top cop when charges were first brought against him by the National Prosecuting Authority in September 2007.
But after months of sustained criticism, Mbeki placed Selebi on an “extended period of leave” on January 12, 2008 – and he resigned as head of Interpol the following day.
Mbeki stunned opposition parties by extending Selebi’s contract by a further 12 months, from July 1, 2008.
According to the SAPS Act, a member “who is convicted of an offence and is sentenced to a term of imprisonment without the option of a fine shall be deemed to have been discharged from the service with effect from the date following the date of such sentence”.
However, with Selebi’s employment contract having lapsed before the sentence was imposed on him, it remains unclear whether this law applied to his case – and whether his state benefits, should therefore have been withheld from him.
The former police commissioner is believed to have been earning upwards of R1.2 million at the time his contract finally expired.