Cele did not identify building - advocate
Pretoria - Former deputy police chief and procurement head Hamilton Hlela identified the Sanlam Middestad building as potential police accommodation, along with property tycoon Roux Shabangu, the inquiry into Bheki Cele's conduct heard on Monday.
Submitting closing arguments in the Tshwane council chambers, advocate Vincent Maleka SC, representing suspended police commissioner Cele, contested Hlela's earlier evidence, which suggested Cele had identified Shabangu's building.
"General Cele did not identify the building. It is not our client who identified the building. There is evidence to show that he [Hlela] and Mr Shabangu identified the building, not our client," said Maleka.
He said the evidence-leading team had failed to provide evidence to support its claim suggesting Cele had breached the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
"It is one thing to suggest that General Cele is guilty of contraventions of the PFMA. It's another thing if you don't put it to him that you have contravened this or the other section of the act," said Maleka.
"We have listened to the long, long argument by my learned friend [evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga]. They have not told the board what provisions of the PFMA has General Cele contravened. How are we supposed to respond to this general claim?" asked Maleka.
Maleka scrutinised Hlela's evidence, submitted during the cross-examination phase of the inquiry. He said Hlela made several assumptions which he acted on without consulting Cele.
He countered earlier claims by the evidence-leading team which suggested Cele acted with a conflicting interest because he had a relationship with Shabangu.
"On our part, we have advised our client about making these admissions that are not based on evidence. There is no evidence at all to show the conflict of interest," said Maleka.
"The claim that somewhere, somehow there must be a relationship [between Cele and Shabangu] is one we are saying this board will be entitled to freely reject with contempt, as we do.
"Regarding that incident in Boksburg [on 24 March 24 2010, where Hlela alleges Cele alluded to Shabangu] - why did he not get the name of the person who was going to call him?" asked Maleka.
He questioned why Hlela did not confirm with Cele if he had sent Shabangu, after getting a call from Shabangu relating to the procurement of Sanlam Middestad building in Pretoria for police office space.
"He formed his own impressions and does not test those impressions, even with the persons affected," said Maleka.
During cross-examination, Hlela told the board that Cele told him, in a hotel parking lot in Boksburg, that "someone" would call him about the procurement of office space.
Hlela testified that only Shabangu contacted him about a building, on the same day. Therefore, in his view there was no need to consult Cele about the developments.
Earlier, the evidence-leading team accused Cele of breaching procurement procedures by taking part in the "flawed leasing" of two buildings earmarked for police accommodation.
Madlanga dwelled on the July 5 alteration of initial police space requirements in a meeting between Shabangu, Cele and other police officials.
"General Cele wanted that particular building [Sanlam Middestad] to be procured for the police. He identified the building and went ahead to become an active participant in the leasing," said Madlanga.
"If he seriously has this attitude with regards to supply chain management, with all the respect that is due to him, we submit that he is a menace when it comes to compliance with the Public Finance Management Act and treasury regulations."
Madlanga said there was an "unexplained relationship" between Cele and Shabangu, which made Cele "compliant to all things Shabangu said". The unexplained relationship was an undeclared conflict of interest, he submitted.
He said Cele had acted dishonestly by not telling Hlela the name of the person who was going to call him about the accommodation procurement.
"It was a calculated move by General Cele. He did not tell General Hlela that Mr Shabangu owns a building and he will call you to discuss procurement processes.
"He was a bit cagey about the identity of the person who would call. That is why he didn't say who was going to contact General Hlela.
Madlanga said apart from misconduct, the "gross breach of the Public Finance Management Act alone warrants the board to recommend Cele's removal from office".
The board of inquiry, appointed by President Jacob Zuma and chaired by Judge Jake Moloi, is mandated to establish whether Cele acted corruptly, dishonestly, or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two police lease deals signed with Shabangu.
It also has to determine his fitness to hold office, and his capacity to efficiently execute his duties.