It wasn't easy for Gerrie Nel when he entered Court 4B of the old Johannesburg High Court last week. Seated not far from him was Jackie Selebi, the man who had him arrested early last year for fraud, defeating the ends of justice and perjury as the prosecutor began to close in on the former top cop.
In a dramatic swoop, 20 armed police entered his Pretoria home late one Tuesday night and arrested Nel in the presence of his wife and young children as they returned from their summer holiday. The charges were dropped a few days later.
It is safe to assume that Selebi doesn't like the man who is leading the prosecution against him in this mega trial. And according to state witness Glenn Agliotti, a number of other people don't either.
But as prosecutor, it's not Nel's job to be nice, but to prosecute the not-so-nice. And that is what he has been doing since he started out as a career prosecutor 25 years ago.
He was appointed a junior prosecutor in the 1993 high-profile trial of Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Waluz for the assassination of political activist Chris Hani that year.
In 1995, he successfully brought two youths to book for gunning down Dr Stephen Pon outside the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
Nel was also the founding head of the Gauteng division of the Scorpions, a position he held from the unit's inception in 1999 until it was disbanded this year. It was also in 1999 that he took on the Casper Greeff case and helped find the Kempton Park dentist guilty of murdering his wife.
A few years later he also successfully took on the case of the State versus Hazel Kidson, the woman who brutally battered and stabbed her brain-damaged husband to death outside their West Rand home.
During his years at the Scorpions, Nel has found himself in the thick of the criminal underworld and in the firing line in the years-long dirty war between the police and the Scorpions.
As head of the Gauteng unit, he has been at the heart of the country's political scandals.
He now leads the prosecution in one of the biggest scandals of them all: the State versus Jackie Selebi.
Nel is widely regarded as a good prosecutor and a committed civil servant.