Cele defends new building
Pretoria – Police commissioner General Bheki Cele has defended the need for new premises leased to for R500m over the next ten years.
At a briefing convened to clarify an "incorrect and worse, misleading" Sunday Times article, Cele told the media in Pretoria on Tuesday that he did not sign the lease agreement for an 18-storey building in the capital city but only signed a needs assessment.
"Let me stress that this is where my role as the accounting officer for the SA Police Service ends."
Cele also denied that he knew businessman Roux Shabangu who owned the building.
He said he was perturbed as to why a reputable newspaper would publish incorrect facts.
As the general of the police he endeavoured to enforce the code of conduct while striving not to be influenced by prevailing media outcry, he said.
"I must however indicate that unwarranted negative publicity can drive one into the debate of a media tribunal. It is such ill experiences as I have observed that can drive one to pose a question, is this a calculated targeted campaign in the name of media freedom?"
Cele said he would be approaching the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) about the article to discuss what he felt had been a unanimous agreement on the principles of professionalism.
"It is on that shared view that I will again raise the matter with Sanef so they cannot be silent when media houses are deliberately disregarding fundamental journalism ideals," said Cele.
The Sunday Times reported that Cele had signed a R500m property rental deal that would see police headquarters move to the Middestad Sanlam centre in Pretoria, which was owned by Shabangu.
According to the report the deal was not treated as a tender, violating Treasury regulations that all government contracts worth over R500 000 go through a bid process.
The report said Shabangu allegedly signed the rental lease with Cele on June 1, but only purchased the building on Wednesday for R220m.
The police's current headquarters was the Wachthuis building around the corner.
On Tuesday, the department of public works said there was nothing untoward about the deal.