Cele's defence team comes out fighting
Jonisayi Maromo and Hlengiwe Nhlabathi
Pretoria - Suspended police chief Bheki Cele's defence team warned on Monday against a "general tendency" of promising evidence that failed to prove anything in the end.
"We will avoid that general tendency...where you promise much in opening statement, but deliver less," lawyer Vincent Maleka told the inquiry in Pretoria into Cele's conduct.
In his opening address State advocate Viwe Notshe said he would lead evidence to show Cele was corrupt. He cited a written statement by former police procurement head and deputy national police commissioner Hamilton Hlela, who had previously claimed Cele gave him direct orders to lease two buildings in Pretoria and Durban.
Hlela resigned in August 2010.
"We have carefully considered and analysed the statement by General Hlela. Nothing comes to establish claims of corruption. His statement does not prove that," said Maleka.
"We will debate that statement. We hope you won't avoid the essence of the questions."
Maleka said if the State advocates relied on Hlela's statement, they would not fulfil their promise made to the board, "in bold terms", to prove the misconduct allegations against Cele.
Late last year, a report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Cele's actions pertaining to two leases for new police headquarters in Pretoria and Durban, valued at R1.6bn, were "improper and unlawful".
These findings would form part of the evidence at the inquiry.
Madonsela’s report has also pitted Cele against Hlela, a close confidant of former police commissioner Jackie Selebi.
Cele has maintained that Hlela and the public works department were responsible for finding offices.
On the other hand, Hlela has claimed Cele was instrumental in identifying the Middestad building in Pretoria and the Transnet building in Durban.
The board was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in October last year to evaluate allegations against the police chief. In February, the board invited members of the public to disclose any information that could help determine whether Cele was fit to hold office.
Cele, who was present at the inquiry on Monday, was suspended last year with full salary, allowances, privileges and benefits pending the outcome of the probe.
Notshe said that he intend calling four witnesses to testify on Monday.
He suggested Hlela be called to testify first because he was "pivotal to issues" the State wanted to address.