Ex-Olympic hero faces his toughest opponent of all
HARDBALL is the game Gerri Nel, the steely prosecutor, is playing against Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria.
Once his jaws lock on to his prey, there is no letting go, as the former Olympic hero is learning to his cost.
Those who might have expected him to be somewhat overawed by the spotlight of a full-blown celebrity trial have been caught on the hop. But they shouldn't have been. He has some very big names in his trophy case.
He has taken the scalp of no less a personage than former national police commissioner and Interpol president Jackie Selebi. He secured a corruption conviction against Selebi, who was jailed for 15 years in the High Court in Johannesburg in 2010.
Mr Nel is seldom at a loss for words. During Selebi's trial, Mr Nel, referring to the former top cop, said he had brought his situation upon himself. "We don't have a fallen angel. Not at all," said Mr Nel.
He famously accused Selebi of being an "arrogant liar" after he told the court his wife had shredded key evidence.
Convicted drug dealer Glenn Agliotti said of Nel in the same trial: "I don't particularly like Mr Nel and I say that with respect. I believe the accused doesn't like Mr Nel, and I don't think many people that I know like Mr Nel, and I say that with respect."
But after Mr Nel recently secured a state witness against Nico Henning in the Chanelle Henning murder trial, Agliotti himself tweeted: "Henning gone. . . Nel too clever for him".
Mr Nel has a string of court successes behind his name.
He was junior prosecutor in the Chris Hani murder case in 1993. Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Waluz are currently behind bars for the assassination of the former SA Communist Party leader.
In the '90s, he prosecuted two youths for gunning down a doctor, and sent dentist Casper Greef to jail for murdering his wife. He was also responsible for sending Hazel Kidson to prison for 25 years for stabbing her husband to death in January 1996.