Cele’s house ‘above board’

2010-09-13 08:33

The acquisition of a R4-million residence for police commissioner General Bheki Cele is “thought to have been above board“, his office said yesterday.

“Upon the appointment of General Cele the need for official residence emerged but the Department of Public Works did not have any but was able to facilitate the acquisition of a house which would be occupied by the national commissioner,” Cele’s spokesperson Nonkululeko Mbatha said.

“The acquisition of the residence is thought to have been above board and was done through the supply chain management division.”

She was responding to a Sunday Times article that said government spent R4.2 million buying and furnishing a home for Cele in the upmarket Pretoria suburb of Waterkloof.

The house cost R3 million with transfer costs, and the police spent R1.2 million on luxury furnishings including a home gym, which was still under construction, the publication said.

Mbatha described the article as “slander” and said Cele had nothing to sign that pertained to the house, and that all inventory was procured through a division belonging to the state.

She added that security factors had to be considered when purchasing the home.

“It was noted that the alternative properties which were identified did not meet the minimum security requirements,” she said.

Mbatha said Cele was paying a monthly rental of just under R9 000 for the property.

The Police Housing Policy states that members appointed or deployed for operational purposes qualify for the provision of residential accommodation. Mbatha said Cele fell within that category.

“Therefore, the house referred to does not belong to General Cele but is and remains the property of the state,” she said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Sunday said it would ask the Public Service Commission to investigate the decision to provide Cele a state residence costing R4 million.

The party’s police spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said she would write to the chairperson of the commission today.

There was no provision the DA was aware of that allowed public money to be spent buying new property for senior managers.

“It is exorbitant, excessive and self-indulgent... there exists already a number of residences in which the national police commissioner could live,” she said.

The money spent on the house came against a background of massive wasteful expenditure by police leadership, said Kohler-Barnard.

Mbatha said it seemed as though the Sunday Times had embarked on a “mission” to write “inaccurate” stories about Cele.

“These irregular reports by the Sunday Times will not distract my efforts of fighting crime and corruption but it is a concern that this particular newspaper is seemingly intent on reporting inaccurately and with impunity.

“I will continue to take up this matter with the press ombudsman and SA National Editors Forum,” she said.

One of the journalists who penned the article on Cele was Mzilikazi wa Afrika who was recently arrested for allegedly being in possession of a fake letter.

Charges against Wa Afrika were withdrawn at the Nelspruit Magistrates Court.

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