Public outcry over Pikoli, Selebi

Eric Naki and Waghied Misbach

Eric Naki and Waghied Misbach

Come clean: that is the message to President Thabo Mbeki from political parties and a political analyst after reports that he is about to deal with national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

The reports followed after Mbeki suspended Scorpions boss Vusi Pikoli.

The commissioner yesterday said he was not aware that the president was to order a probe against him

"I know nothing," Selebi said.

The Star reported yesterday that Mbeki was to order an inquiry into Selebi's links with criminal networks, some linked to slain mining magnate Brett Kebble. Mbeki has been accused of protecting Selebi after claims that Selebi was "too close to criminals".

Political analyst Steven Friedman said there was a shroud of secrecy around the alleged probe against Selebi and Pikoli's suspension.

"This will leave many questions that why now. Why the president acts now and not previously against Selebi. I think that the president ought to tell what is going on," said Friedman.

He added that the reason given for Pikoli's suspension is not sufficient.

"The president risks that the people will not trust his motive as this came in the middle of a succession battle," said Friedman.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa has dismissed as "crap" and "all deception" the report that Mbeki was about to act against Selebi after Pikoli's suspension.

"I am not going to buy that crap. The president must first explain why Pikoli was suspended," said Holomisa.

He said there was a lot of "spin-doctoring" going on since Pikoli was suspended.

"They first said it was because of an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship between Pikoli and the justice minister, now the director-general in the presidency Frank Chikane is saying that this is not the case.

"Which is which? President Mbeki must himself explain what happened and not his spin doctors."

Democratic Alliance spokesman Dianne Kohler- Barnard called on government to explain what was happening.

"If there are any links between the Scorpions boss and the proposed investigation into Selebi, then these reasons must be made as a matter of urgency," said Kohler-Barnard.

"The fact that the most senior police official has a cloud hanging over him has damaged morale throughout the police. We call on government to tell us what is happening," she said.

Meanwhile Sapa reports that after Pikoli and Selebi, Mbeki's third step would be a probe into private companies contracted to the Scorpions to do investigations.

Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe would decide whether there was a prima facie case against Selebi.