Cele draws the battle lines

2012-06-13 12:24

A fiery Bheki Cele made no bones about his intention to fight retired Judge Jake Moloi and Public Protector Thuli Madonsela when he addressed the media in Pretoria this morning following his axing as the country’s top cop.

Cele lambasted both Madonsela and Moloi’s reports, which found that Cele had been solely responsible for the police leases mess that cost him his job.

He also accused a Cabinet minister of trying to convince President Jacob Zuma to add more charges before the hearing into his fitness to hold office resumed.

Cele claimed that he had the full minutes of this meeting, which was also attended by Moloi.

He wants to lodge a complaint against the retired judge with the Judicial Service Commission.

He would not name the minister, but he indicated that after he confronted the minister, he discovered that it was in fact another minister that urged for more charges against him.

An animated Cele questioned how Madonsela and Moloi – who chaired the board of inquiry that was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to determine whether Cele was still fit to hold office – could reach the conclusions they had in the absence of proper evidence against him.

Cele, who rubbished DA leader Helen Zille’s comments that he should not be given a golden handshake, also tore into Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi for his comments that Cele’s firing would send a message that all those caught with their hands in the cookie jar would be harshly dealt with.

Cele lambasted Vavi for the comments, although he said he and the unionist were lifelong friends who had been in the “trenches” together.

But Cele wanted to know how Vavi could say such a thing and which cookie jar the unionist was referring to.

He said he could not be painted with the same brush as his disgraced predecessor, Jackie Selebi – who is serving time in jail after his corruption conviction – or embattled suspended police intelligence chief Richard Mdluli.

“Judging by reports such as these, unsuspecting consumers of news would be forgiven for believing that, like my predecessor as national police commissioner, I have been charged, taken to a court of law and found guilty of corruption or some other criminal offence.

“Judging by the reports you publish, unsuspecting consumers of news would be forgiven for believing that, like the suspended head of crime intelligence, I stand accused of murder and theft of taxpayers’ money,” said Cele.

He also questioned how Madonsela could have found against him even though she admitted that there was no evidence of a corrupt relationship between him and businessman Roux Shabangu, who was awarded the two controversial leases without them going out to tender.

He lashed out at Madonsela for singling him out among all senior officials, including those of the department of public works, which administered the lease agreements for the police.

Cele said he would only decide on his next step of action once his court action to have the Moloi report declared null and void had been concluded.

Cele reminded his detractors not to forget that it was he who was responsible for suspending and firing Mdluli for allegations of fraud and murder, and that he did so in the good name of public safety.

Cele also reiterated that it was he who asked Zuma to institute a probe via the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe questionable tender procedures within the SAPS supply chain management unit, headed by his former deputy, Hamilton Hlela, whose testimony to the Moloi commission sealed Cele’s fate.

“Has it totally escaped you that the same Hamilton Hlela, who was the chief witness against me, but has since admitted that I was not even aware of his request for the department of public works to deviate from normal tender procedures in relation to these two leases, was the same Hlela I asked the SIU to investigate for widespread corruption within the SAPS supply chain management division he headed at the time?” asked Cele.

He added that he did not want a golden handshake and that he only wanted to clear his name in court.

Moloi’s board has recommended to Zuma that Shabangu’s alleged improper relationship with senior officials in the department of public works be investigated by other law enforcement agencies, a move Cele is yet to pronounce on.

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