Cele witness comes under scrutiny
Pretoria - A witness brought in to motivate suspended national police chief Bheki Cele's suitability to hold the position came under sharp scrutiny on Thursday.
Warrant Officer Thulani Ngwenya, national negotiator at the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), was testifying in Pretoria before a board of inquiry into Cele's conduct.
He said 40 police officers had been killed in the line of duty since Cele's suspension.
This was disputed by the evidence-leading team, which contended that statistics indicated a different picture.
"If you are not going to give us comparisons based on empirical data or if you are only going to give evidence based on anecdotal evidence, that will not be of assistance," said evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga.
"If you can give comparisons, you should be able to tell us when (the timeframe) you got that evidence."
Ngwenya said he compared figures from September 2010 to January 2011, when Cele was in office, to the period between October 2011 to January 2012 after he was suspended.
"Though I don't have the exact figures [for the September 2010 to January 2011 period] we found that the number has risen," he said.
Judge Jack Moloi, chairperson of the board, interjected: "You are saying 40 is more, what was the figure in the other time period you mentioned?
Ngwenya responded: "I don't want to say a number that is not exact. I know that they (the killings) did not reach 40 in that period."
The judge: "What is less than 40? 2, 1? So in actual fact you don't have the figures?"
Inquiry board member Terry Motau, SC, commented: "If this evidence is relevant, we want numbers. Just help us with the numbers in order to make a helpful comparison."
Evidence leaders accused Ngwenya of "making a nonsensical submission", and using randomly selected time periods without reason for the selection.
"What purpose is your comparison serving? What practical purpose," Motau asked.
Crime levels, morale
The union's statement submitted that Cele should be retained as head of the police because crime levels had dropped while police morale increased in his tenure.
Madlanga asked: "I take it that in preparing to come and make this presentation you only focused purely on policing and not the other responsibilities of a police commissioner?"
Ngwenya replied that Cele was suitable for office because of the things he had done.
"The way in which he marshals his forces, the things he has changed in the force."
The board was appointed by President Jacob Zuma last October.
Its brief is to determine 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 Cele's fitness to hold office and his capacity to efficiently execute his duties.