witnesses to the underworld

Simon Nare

Simon Nare

Former national prosecuting authority (NPA) chief Bulelani Ngcuka will be called as a state witness in the trial of national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Sources told Sowetan that investigations of Selebi's ties to the criminal underworld started in Ngcuka's tenure at the NPA.

Selebi has accused Ngcuka of still controlling the Scorpions, who fall under the NPA.

A source said the investigations into Selebi's links to the underworld took time because the investigators had to unearth information from them. "Following someone like Selebi takes time because you have to get the underworld on your side."

Selebi is expected to be charged tomorrow. Under an agreement between Selebi's lawyers and the NPA South Africa's top cop and former head of Interpol will not be subjected to a public arrest, but will be summoned to court where he will be charged.

Though Selebi knew as far back as October that the NPA planned to charge him, sources say he had hoped that President Thabo Mbeki would somehow make the matter go away.

A source said Mbeki told Selebi last week that the NPA planned to arrest him. The source said that prompted Selebi to lodge an urgent high court application last Wednesday to stop the Scorpions from taking legal action against him.

On Friday the Pretoria high court dismissed the application with costs. Mbeki suspended Selebi at the weekend and Selebi resigned as president of Interpol.

Interpol secretary-general Ronald Noble described Selebi as a man who "conducted himself and acted in a way to enhance global security and police cooperation worldwide".