Jacob “Jackie” Sello Selebi (7 March 1950 – 23 January 2015) was the former national commissioner of the South African Police Service and the President of African National Congress Youth League 1987–1991,[1] and a former president of Interpol.[2] In January 2008, Selebi was put on extended leave as national police commissioner, and resigned as president of Interpol, after he was charged with corruption in his native South Africa.[3] He was replaced as national commissioner in July 2009 by Bheki Cele. Selebi was found guilty of corruption on 2 July 2010 [4] and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment on 3 August 2010.[5] His appeal against his sentence was rejected by the Supreme Court of Appeal on 2 December 2011, after the court unanimously ruled against him.[6] However, he was released on medical parole in July 2012.[7]

Jacob "Jackie" Sello Selebi
President of Interpol
In office
Preceded byJesús Espigares Mira
Succeeded byArturo Verdugo (acting), Khoo Boon Hui
Commissioner of the South African Police Service
In office
Preceded byFivaz, J.G.
Succeeded byBheki Cele
Personal details
Born(1950-03-07)7 March 1950
Johannesburg, South Africa
Died23 January 2015(2015-01-23) (aged 64)
Pretoria, South Africa


Selebi was born on 7 March 1950 in Johannesburg.[8]

He was a representative of the Soviet Union's World Federation of Democratic Youth in Budapest, Hungary, from 1983 to 1987.[9]

In 1987 he was elected head of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League while in exile in Zambia.[10] In the same year, he was appointed to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC.[9] In 1991 he was made responsible for the repatriation of ANC exiles back into South Africa, and was appointed head of the Department of Welfare of the ANC in 1993.[10] In 1994 he was elected as a Member of Parliament for the ANC.[9]

From 1995 to 1998, Selebi served as the South African ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations.[9]

In 1998, he was appointed Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pretoria, a post he held until 1999.[9]

In 1998, Selebi received a Human Rights Award from the International Service for Human Rights.[11][12]

In 2000, he was made national commissioner of the South African Police Service, a post he held until 2009.[9] During that time, he was elected vice-president of Interpol (African region) in 2002, as post he held until 2004.[9]

In 2004, he was elected as president of Interpol, a post he held until 2008.[9] During his time with Interpol, Selebi also served as Chair of the Anti-Landmine Conference, Oslo, Norway; Chair of Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster; and Chair - Human Rights Commission, United Nations, 54th Session.[9]

He resigned both as National Police Commissioner and President of Interpol in 2008 when corruption charges were laid against him.[13]

On 23 January 2015, after diagnoses of diabetes, kidney failure, and hypertension, Selebi died of a stroke, according to South African officials.[14]


Response to crime rateEdit

In 2007, Selebi was strongly criticised for responding to concern within the country over South Africa's rising crime rate with the comment "What's all the fuss about crime?"[15]

On prostitution and drinkingEdit

In March of the same year, Selebi was also criticised for his suggestion to legalise prostitution and public drinking for the duration of the 2010 Soccer World Cup to be hosted in South Africa. Opposition political parties and Doctors For Life International expressed their dismay at Selebi's recommendation and called on parliament not to legalise prostitution or public drinking.[16][17]

Friendship with drug lordEdit

Selebi admitted to a friendship with Glenn Agliotti,[18] who was accused of murdering Brett Kebble. Agliotti also received a conviction and suspended sentence for his role in a multi-million Rand drug deal known as the 'Paparas' case.[19] Despite being head of police at the time, Selebi claimed that he was oblivious that his friend was involved with crime.

Arrest on corruption chargesEdit

On 10 September 2007, the National Prosecuting Authority issued a warrant of arrest for Selebi for corruption, fraud, racketeering and defeating the ends of justice.[20]

Then NPA head Vusi Pikoli was suspended for his pursuance of Selebi and his commitment to prosecuting the Police Chief.


On 12 January 2008, President Thabo Mbeki effectively suspended Selebi via an "extended leave of absence," and appointed Timothy Charles Williams as acting national commissioner of police.[3]

On 13 January, Interpol announced that Selebi had resigned as president of the organisation to fight the corruption allegations.[21][22]

Selebi made his first appearance in the Randburg Magistrate's Court on 1 February 2008 on charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

Corruption trialEdit

After several postponements,[23] Selebi’s trial began in earnest on 8 April 2010, nearly two years after the charges were first laid.[24]

Evidence in courtEdit

During the trial, convicted drugs smuggler, Glenn Agliotti told the court that he had paid Selebi over R1.2 million ($157,000; £98,000) in bribes since 2000.[13]

Agliotti testified that he had handed over cash-stuffed envelopes and bought handbags for Selebi's wife.[13]

Agliotti said he had first met Selebi in 1990, when he was the head of the ANC's Social Welfare department, responsible for the repatriation of expatriates back to South Africa.[13]

"Initially I would pay from my own money. I would put it in an envelope. It was small amounts - 5,000 rand, 10,000 rand, Agliotti testified.[13] Two later payments, Agliotti continued, were worth R120,000 and R200,000 respectively.[13]

Agliotti further testified that he and Selebi would go shopping together at upmarket Johannesburg shopping centres where all purchases would be charged to Agliotti's account.[13]

"When the accused and I met, I enjoyed shopping and so did he. Him being my friend, I would instruct shop attendants to put all the clothes on my account," Agliotti testified.[13] "For the accused's wife's birthday, I wanted to buy her a Louis Vuitton handbag from Sandton... a red patent one [that] cost 10,000 rand. [The] accused's wife came with me," he said.[13]

In further testimony, Agliotti said he had been a go-between for Selebi and mining tycoon, Brett Kebble, who wanted Selebi to stop an investigation into his company and have charges against his father Roger dropped.[13]


Selebi was found guilty of corruption on 2 July 2010, but not guilty of further charges of defeating the ends of justice.[25]

Judge Meyer Joffe dismissed the defence's argument and said prosecutors had proven that Selebi had received money from Agliotti.[25] "Having due regard to the poor quality of the accused's evidence, the accused's denial of receipt of the payment is not reasonably possibly true," Judge Joffe said.[25] Furthermore, he found that Selebi had shown "complete contempt for the truth", including falsely accusing a witness of lying during the trial.[25] "It is never pleasant to make an adverse credibility finding against a witness. It stigmatises the witness as a liar, a person of low moral fibre. It is a stigma that remains forever. It is so much more unpleasant to make such a finding against the person at the head of SAPS," Judge Joffe said,[25] adding that Selebi had a low moral fibre and "cannot be relied upon."

Selebi was slated to be sentenced on 15 July, but the non-availability of character witnesses caused a postponement to 2 August 2010.[26] On 3 August 2010 he was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment.[27]

Selebi was released on R20,000 ($2,746) bail while his lawyers prepared an appeal.[28] On 2 December 2011 the Supreme Court of Appeal unanimously rejected this appeal.[6] Selebi collapsed at his Waterkloof home while watching the ruling on television. He began his fifteen-year prison term the following day.

An 11-member medical parole advisory board met on 20 June 2012 and recommended the release of six offenders, including Selebi, who needed dialysis for kidney failure. Correctional Services Minister Sbu Ndebele made the announcement at a press conference in Pretoria. "Six offenders were recommended for medical parole. Of these, two of the offenders were respectively released on the 9th and 12 of July 2012," said Ndebele. Selebi was released on medical parole having served just 219 days of his fifteen-year sentence. He remained at home in Waterkloof where he received dialysis for his kidney illness until his death.[29]

Preceded by
John George Fivaz
National Commissioner of the South African Police Service
2000–2009 (on leave from 1/2008)
Succeeded by
Bheki Cele


  1. ^ "Structure of Department of Safety & Security". South African Police Service. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 1 December 2006.
  2. ^ "Interpol's Governance". Interpol. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 1 December 2006.
  3. ^ a b "Mbeki appoints acting police commissioner". IOL. 12 January 2008. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  4. ^ "Selebi found guilty". News24. 2 July 2010.
  5. ^ http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Selebi-gets-15-years-behind-bars-20100803
  6. ^ a b "Jackie Selebi going to jail". News24. 2 December 2011.
  7. ^ "Convicted ex cop to be released". The Public News Hub. 20 July 2012.
  8. ^ "STATEMENT ON THE APPOINTMENT OF NEW DIRECTOR-GENERAL FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS". Department of Foreign Affairs, South Africa. 28 May 1998. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2006.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Jacob (Jackie) Selebi, WhosWho Southern Africa". Archived from the original on 12 June 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Jackie Selebi: South Africa's 'corrupt' police chief". BBC. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
  11. ^ "STATEMENT ON AWARDING OF A HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE TO MR JACKIE SELEBI". Department of Foreign Affairs, South Africa. 23 July 1998. Retrieved 1 December 2006.
  12. ^ "Human Rights Award 1998 - Ambassador Jacob Selebi". International Service for Human Rights. 13 August 1998. Retrieved 1 December 2006.[dead link]
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Ex-SA police chief 'took bribes'". BBC. 6 October 2009. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
  14. ^ "Disgraced former South Africa police chief Selebi dies." Reuters. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  15. ^ "South Africa: President Acknowledges Crime is a Problem". UN Integrated Regional Information Networks. 9 February 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2007. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ Citizen Reporter (2 April 2007). "Docs lash Selebi sex idea". The Citizen. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
  17. ^ "Doctors For Life appalled at prostitution comments". SABC News. 3 April 2007. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
  18. ^ "Selebi denies link to drug bust". Mail & Guardian. 16 July 2006. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
  19. ^ News24 (2 October 2007). "Selebi was investigated - NPA". News24. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2007.
  20. ^ "S.African police chief resigns as Interpol president". Reuters. 13 January 2008. Archived from the original on 21 June 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  21. ^ "Interpol's S African head resigns". BBC News. 13 January 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  22. ^ "Further Selebi trial delays". News24.com. 1 February 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
  23. ^ "Selebi trial resumes". News24.com. 7 April 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
  24. ^ a b c d e "South Africa ex-police head Selebi guilty of corruption". BBC. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
  25. ^ "Selebi to hear sentence in Aug". News24.com. 14 July 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  26. ^ "Selebi gets 15 years behind bars". News24.com. 3 August 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  27. ^ "Ex Interpol President Gets 15 Years Jail in S. Africa". Bloomberg. 4 August 2010. Archived from the original on 6 August 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  28. ^ "Jackie Selebi granted medical parole", News24, 20 July 2012.


External linksEdit