News24

Cele acted out of concern, lawyer says

2012-03-06 22:58

Pretoria - Suspended national police commissioner Bheki Cele had acted out of concern about the Servamus building lease, which was about to expire, a board of inquiry heard in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Vincent Maleka, for Cele, said his client would tell the board he had raised issues relating to the police's future accommodation because he knew the lease contract at Servamus was ending.

The board will seek to establish whether Cele acted corruptly or dishonestly, or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two leases for police office space. It will also examine his fitness to hold office and his capacity to efficiently execute his duties.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Cele's action pertaining to leases for new police headquarters in Pretoria and Durban, valued at R1.6bn, was "improper and unlawful".

The finding will form part of evidence at the inquiry. The board was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in October 2011.

Testifying on the second day of the inquiry, Brigadier Alpheus Ngema said he had raised concerns with his immediate bosses over the handling of the Transnet building, which had been earmarked to accommodate the Durban police.

Ngema referred to a meeting held at the Transnet building and which was attended by the provincial police leadership and representatives of the building's owner.

"When I realised that in that meeting there was no representatives from department of public works [DPW], I told General [Mmamonnye] Ngobeni that I was very uncomfortable," said Ngema.

"She pushed me aside and when we finished viewing the building we went back to our offices. I told her again that we were not supposed to be meeting with the landlord without involving DPW," he said.

Ngema said Ngobeni did not answer him, but instructed him to find out the status of the Servamus building lease.

He said Ngobeni had wanted to convey this information to Cele, who he was meeting at the airport.

However, Maleka disputed the claim, saying Cele did not remember ever meeting Ngobeni at the airport.

Ngema could not be drawn on Cele's conduct relating to the Durban lease. He told the inquiry he had not worked directly with the police chief.

Earlier, former deputy national commissioner Lieutenant General Hamilton Hlela told the board that Cele had called him and was angry over delays in the leasing of the Middestad building in Pretoria.

"He was fuming when he called me. He said I didn't want to give him the two floors at the Middestad building," Hlela said.

Cele had caused Hlela severe mental discomfort, leading to his early retirement, he said.

Before he stepped down in August 2010, Hlela was also head of the police's supply chain management division, mandated with making needs analyses for police accommodation.

"I told him that I was not the one handling the matter, but the department of public works. I wanted to serve in the police until I reached 60 years, but had to leave at 55."

Maleka accused Hlela of making the claims to suit his testimony after reading Madonsela's report on the leases.

The matter was adjourned until Wednesday as no more witnesses were available to testify on Tuesday.

Board of inquiry chairperson Judge Jack Moloi turned down a request by evidence leader Viwe Notshe for the proceedings to be postponed until Monday.

Notshe told the inquiry that a key witness, Irene Nel from KwaZulu-Natal, was available only next week.

Moloi said: "This matter has been hanging long and we expected [it] would continue until it is finalised. It is unwise to deal with this matter in that fashion... it is untenable and undesirable."

Comments
  • Boer - 2012-03-06 23:40

    Why was Cele concerned about the lease. His job is to run the police farce. For all I care it could be done out of a tent or from under a tree.

      Sanet Oelofse - 2012-03-06 23:47

      And what a farce it is...

      Robert - 2012-03-07 04:03

      Why is Roux Shibangu invloved in both leases, secondly they met on as I understand it on Gumede's wedding where Julius was a quest speaker. If it was with two different leasing companies well I would still question the grade and the cost per square meter of such buildings. There is a Rat no matter how you put it.

      Piet - 2012-03-07 07:44

      No tree comes with a aircon neither a tent...... Stupiddity never ends ,they could have build a new office block with less....

  • Warren - 2012-03-07 00:00

    Cele acted out of concern, concern for his own pocket that is!

  • Wesley - 2012-03-07 05:03

    If you signed the contract, you take responsibility

      Kevin - 2012-03-07 08:19

      If you are in charge ,you carry the can . In this case it looks like the can was a goody bag.

  • Ailwei - 2012-03-07 05:13

    fack farce !

  • Goose - 2012-03-07 07:12

    So the facts are that both buildings belong to Roux Shabangu, then, they held high level meetings with the landlord WITHOUT the department of public works! THAT alone...reeks of corruption! Cele has a job to do and if he was "concerned" he should have taken the matter up through a simple phone-call to the head of public works. He did not, so that means he did not follow protocol, neither did he invite DPW to the meeting so again protocol was flouted, and then he started taking over the DPW jobs by forcing his colleagues to sign the leases. Sorry, just the facts in this short article say he is a crook. You don't even need to hire an army of attorneys to work this out. Cele is clearly lying.

  • Comrade - 2012-03-07 07:47

    concern for his bank balance !!!!!

  • Kevin - 2012-03-07 08:18

    Concern is not the correct spelling for greed.

  • hein.huyser - 2012-03-07 08:21

    The only concern he had was with his back pocket.

  • Vuyolwethu Sanele Gqwaru - 2012-03-07 08:25

    If the lease was about to expire, why didn't he renew it or find new premises that are a lot REASONABLE? It's starting to look like the only concern he had was how much would be going into his pockets. Another thing, getting these expensive leases was not gonna make the South African Police Service any less incompetent. Follow me on twitter

  • Vuyolwethu Sanele Gqwaru - 2012-03-07 08:26

    If the lease was about to expire, why didn't he renew it or find new premises that are a lot REASONABLE? It's starting to look like the only concern he had was how much would be going into his pockets. Another thing, getting these expensive leases was not gonna make the South African Police Service any less incompetent. Follow me on twitter @VuyoZucch

  • Barry - 2012-03-07 08:31

    How many other countries have two consecutive National Police Commissioners placed on trial for corruption and why is this? Isn't this regarded to be a position of absolute trust and integrity or am I missing something?

  • Den - 2012-03-07 09:25

    out of concern he was getting his pocket linned.

  • Anneck - 2012-03-07 10:28

    Maybe he will be admitted to hospital too if found guilty?

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