TACKLING ANC stalwarts Jackie Selebi and Jacob Zuma was just part of the job, said former National Prosecuting Authority head Vusi Pikoli this week.
He was speaking at the Daily Dispatch Dialogues in a full-to-capacity Guild Theatre in East London on Tuesday on the launch of his book My Second Initiation.
The book tells of his past career which saw him having to knock on President Zuma’s office door in Luthuli House while he was the ANC’s deputy president, and inform him about the NPA’s plan to charge him for corruption.
Asked how he felt about having to break such news to his comrade and leader in the ANC here and in exile, Pikoli said: “Some people have spoken of bravery in writing what I have written, of having done the things I have done.
“I always respond ‘if you call that bravery, then it means there exists fear’,” he said.
In the book, he gives details of events leading to the NPA’s decision to charge Zuma, the authority’s decision to charge then police commissioner and head of Interpol Selebi, and life growing up in “Blawa”, a township name for New Brighton in Port Elizabeth.
He details how he defied his mother’s advice not to take the position of national director of public prosecutions, a position left vacant by his own comrade Bulelani Ngcuka, who left under a dark cloud.
Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana, who was sitting alongside him on stage, asked if he was not afraid to do what he did – defying then president Thabo Mbeki by charging Selebi, and charging an ANC deputy president Pikoli said he was not.
When further asked by a member of the audience if he feared for his life, he said if anybody wanted to kill him, he was not scared. “It’s okay. So what after that?” because everyone is going to die ultimately.
Pikoli was fired after charging Selebi, an ally of Mbeki’s, over his involvement with convicted drug lord Glenn Agliotti and while pushing for Zuma to answer corruption charges.
He said he “had to do what I had to do” which included disobeying unlawful instructions.
Asked what he would have done if Mbeki had insisted he not go after Selebi, rather to go after Zuma only, he said: “Being a national director, my job is to deal with issues of crime fighting, irrespective of who is involved.”
He also called on prosecutors to always stick to the call for national duty by defending the country’s Constitution and not be party loyalists.
Pikoli said his story was a story that had to be told. “Generations to come should be able to at least learn a little bit out of this book. About how to treat state institutions,” added Pikoli, who said it should never be said he was a member of the ANC for over 30 years, as he was still a member of the party. — firstname.lastname@example.org