Ball in Zuma's court on Cele, minister

2011-07-14 22:24

Johannesburg - The SAPS will respond to a public protector report on alleged maladministration in the procurement of leases for police office space early next week.

They needed more time to study the document, which was released on Thursday, Major General Nonkululeko Mbatha, spokesperson for National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele said.

It was handed to the SAPS two hours before journalists got it, she said.

In her report Madonsela recommends President Jacob Zuma should act against Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde for failing to co-operate with a probe into two controversial building leases for the police.

The presidency said it received the protector's report on Thursday afternoon, and that President Zuma will comment on it after it had been studied and discussed.

Madonsela notes alleged maladministration and improper and unlawful conduct by the department of public works and the SA Police Service in the leasing of office space in Durban.

The 10-year lease was worth R1.16bn.

The release of the document came four months after an initial report into a R500m lease for similar office space in Pretoria, signed between national police commissioner General Bheki Cele and property tycoon Roux Shabangu. She found the agreement between the two "fundamentally flawed and invalid".

Total disregard

Earlier on Thursday, the Democratic Alliance called for the immediate dismissal of National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele.

In view of the findings announced by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela regarding the SA Police Service (SAPS) lease deals scandal, the DA would ask President Zuma for Cele's immediate dismissal, as well as any other individuals implicated in Madonsela's report, DA spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said.

Kohler-Barnard said as the accounting officer of the SAPS, Cele held ultimate responsibility for the financial decisions made by his department.

In both the protector's reports, Cele had been found to be responsible for the unlawful conduct and maladministration that resulted in the abuse of over a billion rand's worth of state funds.

"The manner in which the SAPS lease deals in question were conducted indicates a total disregard, on the part of both Bheki Cele and Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde for the checks and balances designed to prevent the abuse of public funds.

"If these are not grounds for the national police commissioner's dismissal, it is hard to imagine what is, and indeed, should the president refuse this request, we believe he would be in breach of his sworn duty to uphold law and order in this land," Kohler-Barnard said.

It was also imperative that remedial action be taken swiftly against Mahlangu-Nkabinde, whose conduct the protector described as having "failed to meet the requisite stewardship expected from her", she said.

Accept responsibility

The series of events following Madonsela's first report were of serious concern.

Madonsela called for further investigation and urgent remedial action to be taken against the implicated officials but there had been no visible response by the relevant authorities.

"On the contrary, Commissioner Cele hit back, refused to accept responsibility for his wrongdoing, and questioned the public protector's impartiality."

Shortly after the release of the report, the SAPS "raided" her offices.

Then, last week Independent Newspapers reported that Madonsela was being investigated for fraud and corruption.

"Despite President Zuma publicly stating his support for the work of the public protector, his administration's repeated failure to act on the recommendations put forward by Advocate Madonsela's office tell another story.

"The DA calls on President Jacob Zuma to prove his commitment to the values on which our democracy is based, and to abide by his repeated promises to root out corruption in government, by dismissing the National Police Commissioner and any other individuals who are implicated in the public protector's report," she said.

Won't be intimidated

The Inkatha Freedom Party has also given Madonsela its backing, saying it supports the public protector's quest to stop corruption and maladministration.

"Advocate Madonsela has proven that she will not be intimidated... that she will not be deterred from investigating improper and prejudicial conduct, maladministration and abuse of power in state affairs," IFP Chief Whip Koos van der Merwe said in a statement on Thursday.

The IFP echoed the DA's call for Cele to be dismissed.

Read more on:    police  |  jacob zuma  |  gwen mahlangu-nkabinde  |  bheki cele  |  thuli madonsela  |  police lease saga

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