Cele faces new probe

2011-12-01 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa has ordered internal investigations into the slew of senior posts and golden handshakes that General Bheki Cele, suspended chief of the police, has dished out in the past two years.

The investigations involve the appointment of at least 20 senior officials and more than R31,2 million in severance packages to get rid of the officers Cele had replaced.

Mthethwa said in parliament yesterday it seems that Cele has abused the policy which allows the national police chief to appoint officers “in exceptional circumstances” without having to follow normal appointment procedures.

It would also appear that Cele abused clause 35 of the Police Act in terms of which officers may receive severance packages or go on early pension.

Apart from the internal investigations, Mthethwa also asked the Special Investigations Unit to investigate irregular expenditure spending on the National Police Day celebrations at Orlando Stadium in Soweto in January.

Some 37 000 officers gathered from across South Africa for the party, which cost over R36,4 million.

A few of these millions were reportedly spent irregularly.

“The Special Investigations Unit has already prepared a proclamation for the president and awaits his approval [to continue with the investigation],” Mthethwa told the police portfolio committee.

Members of parliament were surprised when Mthethwa told them that the millions spent on 19 severance packages cannot be recovered.

“They did not allocate it [the money] to themselves; they applied for it and it was approved [by Cele],” said Mthethwa.

He said there’s is room to “manipulate” in clause 35 and the Police Act has to be amended so that the minister must in future approve severance packages.

After his briefing to parliament, Mthethwa told the media, an internal investigation is being done to establish why the 19 officers received severance packages.

“Although it has also happened previously [before Cele’s appointment], we will only focus on this group,” Mthethwa said.

The second investigation focuses on the 20 people whom Cele has appointed or promoted without the usual appointment procedures being followed.

His approach was allegedly to advertise a post, then to pull the advertisement and immediately appoint a person without conducting any interviews.

Mthethwa said it would not be outside the scope of Cele’ authority if one or two people were appointed in this manner.

“But if it is more than this, it becomes a problem.

“Something is not right, but I cannot put my finger on it.

“I do have my doubts and this is why we must get clarity,” the minister told Beeld.

Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, acting head of police, accompanied Mthethwa yesterday dressed in uniform with a plain blue police cap.

He answered questions from the members of parliament briefly. When asked what his impressions were of the police’s new “militaristic” ranking system, Mkhwanazi said it does not change in the discipline of the service much.

“But without command and control the police will not survive.”

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