Judge lays down law as Cele probe kicks off

The probe into suspended top cop Bheki Cele has begun in Pretoria, with Judge Jack Moloi laying the ground rules and explaining the crux of the inquiry.

The probe into suspended police commissioner Bheki Cele started in Pretoria on Monday, with Judge Jack Moloi laying the ground rules and explaining the crux of the inquiry.

Moloi indicated that the inquiry was not about to re-investigate ground that had already been covered by the public protector, Thuli Madonsela.

The board would seek to establish whether Cele acted corruptly or dishonestly or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to the two police leases, his fitness to hold office and capacity to efficiently execute his duties, he said.

“The board was also not sitting as a court of law to review the correctness and accuracy of the public protector’s report,” said Moloi.

That report found that Cele’s action pertaining to two leases for new police headquarters in Pretoria and Durban, valued at R1.6-billion, was “improper and unlawful”.

These findings would form part of the evidence at the inquiry.

The board was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in October last year to evaluate allegations against the police chief.

In February the board invited members of the public to disclose any information that could help determine whether Cele was fit to hold office.

The outspoken police chief, who was present at the inquiry on Monday, was suspended with full salary, allowances, privileges and benefits pending the outcome of the probe.

The previous national police commissioner, Jackie Selebi, was handed a 15-year jail sentence by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg in 2010 for corruption following a lengthy trial which began in 2008.—Sapa

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