Cele admits signing without questioning

2012-03-07 22:38
Pretoria - Suspended national police chief Bheki Cele occasionally signed off on official documents from his deputies without scrutinising them, a board of inquiry into allegations of misconduct against him heard on Wednesday.

Cele made the admission during his testimony in the investigation to establish whether he violated procurement regulations on two police lease agreements.

Cross-examined by evidence leader Viwe Notshe, he explained that he had entrusted his deputies to make of certain decisions, which he did not question, and would sign documents "as prepared".

"There would have to be a serious reason for me to go through the whole preparation of a DDG [deputy director general]," he said.

"In the police we have a number of DDGs. All my five deputies are DDGs."

As the head of the police, Cele was a director general.

"There must be something that provokes for me to scrutinise a document, but it cannot be a norm. I take the document with the understanding that it was prepared by a DDG. It would be abnormal for every DG to re-read and start afresh on documents prepared by his DDG."

Inquiry chairperson Judge Jack Moloi asking Cele if he would sign papers by his DDG even if they were for his resignation.

"I am lost. Do you just sign whatever comes from the DDGs?," Moloi asked.

"There are other documents, in other circumstances, that need to be engaged, but not all," Cele replied.

"Under certain circumstances, I would move up in the understanding of a particular document at a given time," he said.

The questions were directed at establishing whether Cele, as the departmental accounting officer, understood the financial prescripts accompanying the running the department's financial services.

Cele said he understood his responsibilities well and that he applied his mind to the prioritisation of projects.

Asked whether the SA Police Service adhered to fair, transparent and competitive procurement procedures in that it invited tenders, Cele said police headquarters identified a sole service provider at "certain times" and under "certain conditions".

Dubious character

In his testimony, Cele portrayed his former deputy and procurement head Hamilton Hlela as a dubious character who did things behind his back and did not follow proper procedures.

Cele said he had come close to signing a R3bn public-private-partneship deal for the construction of new police headquarters at a site in Pretoria.

Being from Durban, he was fairly new in Pretoria when his former deputy and procurement head Hamilton Hlela encouraged him to sign the contract on the bonnet of a car, three weeks after he took office.

At the time, the police were on a month-to-month lease at Wachthuis, which had inadequate space.

Cele said the issue of police accommodation had been discussed a long time before he was appointed as commissioner by President Jacob Zuma in July 2009.

The urgent need for accommodation was triggered by the World Cup, because an efficient and effective communications team needed office space, he said when asked why he had approached a senior police official, Martha Stander, about the accommodation issue at an official function on March 24 2010.

"The issue has been there since around 2004 and 2005. I found it there," Cele said.

He said it came up during an informal chat with Stander, who referred him to Hlela about procurement issues. Stander testified on Tuesday.

"We were just chatting. When it comes to processes, I would speak to one person necessary," he said.

Cele said decided not to sign the contract to build new headquarters, after applying his mind to the matter. He considered building a new police station instead.

He said he had considered the fact that only four police stations had been built in KwaZulu-Natal since 1994.

"Hlela said to me the PPP [public-private-partnership] wouldn't like that."

"There are many other things I can tell you [about him]," he said.

Big omissions

Cele said a few weeks after the PPP contract fell through, Hlela wanted him to sign an R8m contract to renovate his office and that of the ministry. This also fell through.

Cele said this and other incidents led to him approach the Special Investigating Unit to investigate the police's procurement department.

He said he was further alarmed by "big omissions" by Hlela, who he claimed had "forgotten" to inform him that he had extended the lease agreement at the Wachthuis building, which the police were due to vacate.

Questioned about his failure to disclose this earlier, Hlela said it had been known since July 28 2009, the day before Cele was appointed.

Cele said he had been "taken aback" at Hlela's revelation, made about four months after his appointment.

"No general at the time at Mahlamba Ndlopfu [the president's official residence in Pretoria] raised the issue," Cele said in reference to the day he was sworn in.

The hearing continues on Thursday.

Read more on:    police  |  bheki cele  |  hamilton hlela  |  police lease saga

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
28 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.