Bheki Cele overreacted to letter, says Thuli Madonsela

2014-03-23 06:00

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says former police commissioner Bheki Cele overreacted in public to a letter she sent him, warning that she may have to make an adverse finding against him.

Madonsela said she sent a section 79 notice, which does not equate to a finding but is only a notice of a possible finding.

Cele went public about his objections to a provisional adverse finding by the Public Protector about his role in the Nkandla security upgrades saga.

It was reported then that the Protector had provisionally found Cele had failed to stop fruitless and wasteful expenditure at Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla in his capacity as accounting officer of the SA Police Service.

Madonsela told the Mail & Guardian: “He was not the only one I gave notice to. There were three other people. I chose my language carefully. The letter merely said ‘you were in charge during a specific time and there is a possibility that we may have to make a finding against you’. There was no evidence against him or the other people.”

Madonsela said it appeared Cele panicked and leaked all the correspondence between them.

“Sometimes people panic and there was lots of panicking on this issue. We had an unprecedented number of attorneys who were engaged after we sent out section 79 notices. I think we need to spend time to educate people about what section 79 notices are because a lot of money was wasted by government in retaining external lawyers.”

Cele’s spokesperson, Vuyo Mkhize, said it wasn’t clear what Madonsela referring to: “Is it the two meetings Cele had with her, the four letters we wrote in response or the engagements that happened in the media once the matter was in public?

“If the suggestion is that we planted stories we take exception and would want her to prove the allegation.

If you consider Cele was previously fired from his job as a result of Madonsela’s findings, she cannot say he overreacted. There was no way he was going to treat this matter lightly,” Mkhize said.

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