Rautenbach goes into hiding

Reports from South Africa said that prosecutor Gerrie Nel and his team were trying "frantically" to find Rautenbach amid reports that Zimbabwean authorities and former South African President Thabo Mbeki have asked the rogue businessman not to turn up for court proceedings or risk ‘unspecified actions’.

Last week, Judge Meyer Joffe adjourned court proceedings in the Johannesburg High Court at Nel’s request because of "difficulty" in consulting witnesses.

"There is difficulty I have had with consulting the next three witnesses… to prepare them for court," said Nel. "I would require the court to stand down."

Nel said not all the witnesses were in the country and he also had to consult certain legal teams.

On Sunday, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga refused to comment on the matter.

Rautenbach, who lives in Zimbabwe, spent almost a decade on the run before entering into a plea-sentence agreement with the NPA on tax evasion charges on September 16, just 16 days before the start of Selebi’s trial.

Under the deal, Rautenbach, as a director of SA Botswana Hauliers, agreed to pay a fine of R40 million on 326 counts of fraud.

Convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti testified that Rautenbach paid him USD100,000 (about R743,500) as an alleged bribe for Selebi to assist him with his run-ins with the law.

Agliotti said Selebi, who was also president of international police body Interpol, was to check whether there were any international warrants out for the then fugitive Rautenbach.

Former South African National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Bulelani Ngcuka was named in the Jackie Selebi trial with revelations linking him to Zimbabwe’s spy agents and the shady deals in mineral rights.

Selebi’s defence quizzed state witness Glenn Agliotti on a letter he handed Selebi which alleged that Ngcuka was being controlled by foreign intelligence agencies (believed to be Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation) and that they were blackmailing him.

Bulelani Ngcuka was former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s close ally and his wife Mlambo-Ngcuka was Deputy President.

The issue of Mbeki’s quite-diplomacy as a means to Zimbabwean and DRC mineral rights has been whispered in the Zimbabwean political conspiracy theories without any clear hint. Thabo Mbeki protected Robert Mugabe and without him, he would have been history.

"I will not go into detail on what the blackmailing was about, but do you agree that this is what is in the letter," asked defence counsel advocate Jaap Cilliers.

The letter was from Billy Rautenbach, one of the top businessmen Agliotti solicited money from with the promise that his good friend Selebi could help them avoid prosecution for their criminal activities.

The letter also stated that Ngcuka had tried to extort a bribe from Rautenbach, whom he was investigating for tax evasion and money laundering. He allegedly wanted Rautenbach to assist him with securing rights for mining deals in Zimbabwe and the DRC in exchange for an investigation against him being abandoned.

That information was given to Selebi, who was police commissioner at the time, with the hope that he would help make the charges against Rautenbach disappear.

The defence is now trying to prove that Selebi had no intention of helping Rautenbach but was rather interested on the information he gave him concerning Ngcuka.

"Do you agree that the accused was more interested on the document about the Ngcuka issue? That he never got back to you about helping Rautenbach?" asked Cilliers.

Agliotti replied with a yes to both questions.

He is currently being cross examined in the trial of corruption and defeating the ends of justice against Selebi. Agliotti said he had given Selebi money in exchange for favours.

Earlier, a tearful Glenn Agliotti told the South Gauteng High Court on Thursday that he made payments of about R1-million to former top cop Jackie Selebi for "friendship" and "business" reasons.

"I made payments to the accused because, firstly, we were friends and I needed him in my business deals," the convicted drug dealer said at the former police commissioner’s corruption trial.

Agliotti also said he needed Selebi in his dealings with slain mining magnate Brett Kebble and his associates, from whom he had requested a $1-million "consultancy fee" for access to Selebi.

"He did help me with three reports he showed me."

Selebi showed Agliotti reports that he was being monitored by United Kingdom officials for drug trafficking.

Earlier, Agliotti broke down while state prosecutor Gerrie Nel was questioning him about an affidavit signed in January this year, in which he criticised the way in which the Scorpions were handling his case.

"My Lord, it’s not easy being here … I didn’t want to be here to testify against my then-friend and the accused," said Agliotti, before Judge Meyer Joffe adjourned proceedings to allow him to compose himself.

Speaking after the adjournment, Agliotti told the court the affidavit was handed over to former intelligence boss Manala Manzini, deputy director general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Arthur Fraser and police commissioner Mulangi Mphego.

"I wanted somebody to hear my side of the story … in order to try to secure a deal for myself," said Agliotti.