Police National commissioner General Bheki Cele said the police were seeking legal advice as he disputed the Public Protector’s findings that he was involved in improper, unlawful conduct that amounted to maladministration.
Addressing a press conference in Pretoria Cele said: “Her finding that I was involved in improper, unlawful conduct which amounted to maladministration is disputed. I do not see how the Public Protector made these findings against me on an issue which is not my responsibility.”
On Tuesday, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said she found that “the accounting officer” of the SA Police Service (SAPS) was guilty of improper conduct when police authorised an alleged R500-million lease for the Sanlam Middestad Building in Pretoria.
She later said this was Cele.
She found that the accounting officer of the public works department was also guilty of improper conduct and maladministration.
Madonsela found invalid the lease between the public works department and property tycoon Roux Shabangu’s Roux Property Fund.
She said that although Cele did not sign the actual lease, he did sign a memorandum dated May 10 2010, which authorised funding for the lease.
Cele said that while he respected the office of the Public Protector, he had been “subjected to untrue allegations”.
“Where in the Public Protector’s report does it show that I am corrupt?” he asked.
He said he had been found guilty by virtue of his position, but that he was entitled to delegate responsibility.
“I am entitled to delegate responsibilities, but that does not divest me of ultimate responsibility as the accounting officer of the police.”
He said that even the pubic protector could not find an improper relationship between himself and Shabangu.
Cele said the first time he met Shabangu was at a presentation for the building.
Last year, it was reported that he met Shabangu at a wedding prior to the signing of the lease agreement.
When he became National Commissioner, he became concerned at the way SAPS procurement policies worked and had called for the assistance of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), said Cele.
Cele questions independence of protector
This unit, headed by Willie Hofmeyr, assisted the Public Protector with the five-month investigation.
It was, said Cele, a matter of concern that the SIU had worked together with the Public Protector on the report.
He said that prior to Madonsela releasing her report, the SAPS had expressed concerns over the impact such cooperation would have on the independence of the public protector.
This was a serious issue which detracted from the fairness of the process.
He said the police had identified a need for bigger premises — to house the ministry and police headquarters — even before he was appointed.
“I was not personally involved in the process, which I delegated to the appropriate official having experience and knowledge in relation to property.”
He said that there was still an SIU investigation into other officials.
In her report, Madonsela noted that Cele issued a directive on September 30, 2009 “in terms of which all procurement of goods and services by the SAPS in excess of R500 000, had to be approved by him.”
She said that this directive “effectively withdrew all existing delegations” and that direct authority for the deal rested with Cele.
He said he did not favour any particular building, but was still of the opinion that the SAPS required a building that would accommodate the top hierarchy of the police and the ministry.
He said that the police’s lease on the current headquarters at the Wachthuis building, around the corner from Middestad, had been extended by the public works department without it going to tender.
He said that this had also been referred to the SIU for investigation.
He said he had not been found guilty of corruption.
“To my knowledge, only a court of law can find me guilty. To those who are baying for my resignation, my record speaks for itself.”
Cele said that even the Public Protector had not recommended that he resign and he challenged anyone to show him where in her report it called for such action. – Sapa