Cele lease inquiry told he acted honestly

Suspended national police commissioner Bheki Cele acted out of concern in the Servamus building lease, which was about to expire, a board of inquiry heard in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Vincent Maleka, for Cele, said his client would tell the board he had raised issues relating to the police’s future accommodation because he knew the lease contract at Servamus was ending.

The board will seek to establish whether Cele acted corruptly or dishonestly, or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two leases for police office space. It will also examine his fitness to hold office and his capacity to efficiently execute his duties.

Public protector Thuli Madonsela found Cele’s action pertaining to leases for new police headquarters in Pretoria and Durban, valued at R1.6-billion, was “improper and unlawful”.

The finding will form part of evidence at the inquiry. The board was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in October 2011.


Testifying on the second day of the inquiry, Brigadier Alpheus Ngema said he had raised concerns with his immediate bosses over the handling of the Transnet building, which had been earmarked to accommodate Durban police.

‘Pushed aside’
Ngema referred to a meeting held at the Transnet building and which was attended by the provincial police leadership and representatives of the building’s owner.

“When I realised that in that meeting there was no representatives from department of public works, I told General [Mmamonye] Ngobeni that I was very uncomfortable,” said Ngema.

“She pushed me aside and when we finished viewing the building we went back to our offices. I told her again that we were not supposed to be meeting with the landlord without involving [the department],” he said.

Ngema said Ngobeni did not answer him but instructed him to find out the status of the Servamus building lease.

He said Ngobeni had wanted to convey this information to Cele who he was meeting at the airport.

However, Maleka disputed the claim, saying Cele did not remember ever meeting Ngobeni at the airport.

Angry over delays
Ngema could not be drawn on Cele’s conduct relating to the Durban lease. He told the inquiry he had not worked directly with the police chief.

Earlier, former deputy national commissioner Lieutenant-General Hamilton Hlela told the board that Cele had called him and was angry over delays in the Middestad lease.

“He was fuming when he called me. He said I didn’t want to give him the two floors at the Middestad building,” Hlela said.

Cele had caused Hlela severe mental discomfort, leading to his early retirement, he said.

Before he stepped down in August 2010, Hlela was also head of the police’s supply chain management division, mandated with making needs analyses for police accommodation.

“I told him that I was not the one handling the matter but the department of public works. I wanted to serve in the police until I reached 60 years but had to leave at 55.”

‘Untenable’
Maleka accused Hlela of making the claims to suit his testimony after reading Madonsela’s report on the leases.

The matter was adjourned to Wednesday as no more witnesses were available to testify.

Board of inquiry chairperson Judge Jack Moloi turned down a request by evidence leader Viwe Notshe for the proceedings to be postponed to Monday.

Notshe told the inquiry that a key witness, Irene Nel from KwaZulu-Natal, was only available next week.

Moloi said, “This matter has been hanging long and we expected [it] would continue until it is finalised. It is unwise to deal with this matter in that fashion … it is untenable and undesirable.” — Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Some are more equal than others

It’s do what we say, not what we do, as the ANC lays Andrew Mlangeni to rest

Vigorous policing of petty crime during the pandemic suggests a Pyrrhic defeat

The ideological aims of the criminal justice system in dysfunctional societies, like South Africa, is to indirectly legitimise the inequitable economic system

Fight the disease of corruption in the same way we fight the coronavirus

Gogo Dlamini, Themba Dlamini’s mother, died of Covid-19, but Mzanzi has a chance to rid the country of fraud and exploitation and instead serve ‘Gogo Dlamini’, the people of South Africa

Cabinet reshuffle rumours: Unlikely to happen any time soon, but…

Persistent rumours of a cabinet reshuffle may be jumping the gun, but they do reflect the political realignment taking place within the ANC

Cartoon: Carlos on respect for the law

It appears that those tasked with enforcing the law don't know it.

Prasa to dismiss four ‘Derailed’ officials

The passenger rails agency is to act against officials implicated in former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s 2015 report on corruption and maladministration
Advertising

Western Cape warned not to be complacent about flat-lining Covid-19...

The Western Cape, which once had the highest number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa, is seeing a steady decline in active cases

Sisulu axes another water board

Umgeni Water’s board in KwaZulu-Natal was appointed irregularly by her predecessor, the water and sanitation minister claims
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday