Nel arrest was an order 'from higher up'

Time of article published Jan 10, 2008

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Two police officers seeking an arrest warrant for Gerrie Nel admitted there was "not sufficient evidence" to charge him and that they were carrying out instructions from "higher up", the Gauteng Scorpions boss alleges.

This is one of the startling allegations contained in an affidavit filed by Nel on Wednesday night after his arrest on Tuesday on charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

The affidavit was supported under oath by the acting head of the prosecutions service, Sibongile Mzinyathi.

In the sworn statement, Nel who led the Brett Kebble murder investigation and is heading the investigation into Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi claims his arrest was "made with ulterior motives" and should therefore be set aside.

Nel provides disturbing details in his version of his night-time arrest, during which he:

  • Pleaded with police officers not to handcuff him.

  • Was forced to change his clothes in front of four police officers.

  • Was taken to the Moot police station.

    Had he not been granted R10 000 bail in the Pretoria magistrates' court on Wednesday, police spokeperson Lungelo Dlamini said, Nel would have spent at least three nights in jail.

    Nel's allegations come after a National Prosecuting Authority statement on Wednesday alleging that police were so desperate to get Nel behind bars that they had defied state policy, lied to NPA bosses and refused to accept the opinion of at least four prosecutors who told them they did not have a case.

    Meanwhile the turf war between the Scorpions and the police and the alleged criminal activities of leading law enforcers has sparked fears of a security threat, prompting new ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe to warn on Wednesday that "we have got a potential crisis on our hands".

    Acting NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe expressed alarm on Wednesday that the police had failed to get his written permission for Nel to be charged, as required under policy directives in the NPA Act.

    Nel states in his affidavit that Potchefstroom police officers Captain Tsietsi Mano and Senior Superintendent Ntebo Mabula had approached senior public prosecutor Solomzi Mveke seeking a warrant for his arrest last September.

    This move came a fortnight after Nel had obtained a warrant from Randburg magistrate Cheryl Loots for Selebi's arrest on charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and defeating the ends of justice .

    The charges against Nel relate to a trial in which he testified against fellow Scorpion Cornwell Tshavungwa and was heavily criticised by magistrate Andries Lamprecht for displaying "partisanship towards the cause of the accused".

    Suspended NPA deputy director Tshavhungwa was convicted of corruption last January for sabotaging an official fraud and corruption investigation into the squandering of millions of taxpayers' rands by the now defunct Mpumalanga Economic Empowerment Corporation (MEEC).

    Police opened a docket on Nel, containing only statements from Mano and Mabula, a transcript of the Tshavhungwa judgment and a copy of an affidavit by former MEEC boss Ernst Khoza who was linked to the corruption for which Tshavhungwa was convicted.

    After being rebuffed in their efforts to obtain Mveke's backing for an arrest warrant against Nel, Mano and Mabula then approached an Advocate Mosing, a Pretoria deputy director in the NPA.

    On viewing the docket, and seeing that it already contained a blank J50 warrant of arrest form, Mosing had asked whether "the SAPS members were already thinking of applying for a warrant as the evidence was very scant", Nel alleges.

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