‘Bully Cele tried to take over my office’

2012-03-06 12:40

Lieutenant General Hamilton Hlela, former deputy to suspended police chief Bheki Cele, was under strain from day one when the latter was appointed because he quickly demanded to take over the office he had used for eight years, Hlela has said.

Hlela was under cross-examination today by defence advocate, Vincent Maleka (SC), at the Board of Inquiry into Cele’s fitness to hold office in Pretoria.

Hlela, who was responsible for tender procurement in the SA Police Service, told the inquiry that Cele had put him under “severe strain” on numerous occasions.

Among others, he was instructed to inform the public works department to award leases for police office buildings in Pretoria and Durban to businessman Roux Shabangu’s company.

Hlela has accused Cele of initiating a meeting with Shabangu but told the inquiry that Cele was never involved in the procurement of the controversial Middestad building as office space.

Cele allegedly instructed Hlela in a letter not to award any leases without his approval, Hlela told the inquiry.

But this was refuted by Maleka who said that Cele would testify that he never pressured Hlela into doing anything.

Hlela said he resigned from the police service in September 2010, a few months after the lease was approved, because Cele bullied him and had pressured him on the leases.

When asked why he did not tell anyone about his reasons for leaving the service, not even Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, Hlela did not have an answer.

Maleka said Hlela’s accusations were an “after-thought” and accused him of trying to save his skin and cast aspersions on Cele.

Cele was seen laughing for the first time during the proceedings when Hlela accused him of trying to take over his office.

“The commissioner will testify that at no point did he put you under any strain,” said Maleka.

Hlela said he resigned because a “fuming” Cele once called him to ask about the leases.

Asked to comment on Cele’s contention that he never identified the Middestad building, Hlela said: “He (Cele) would be lying.” Hlela would not comment on whether Cele was a good police commissioner.

Although Maleka spent the entire day yesterday and this morning cross-examining Hlela, State Attorney Viwe Notshe only spent a few minutes asking him questions.

On numerous occasions Maleka accused him of being evasive, indicating that his responses were not satisfactory.

Cele’s deputy commissioner and head of human resources, Magda Stander, testified that she referred Cele to Hlela when the former first raised concerns about lack of police accommodation.

The hearing continues.

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