On-the-spot Cele tries to fight back
Pretroia - Suspended national police commissioner Bheki Cele came under scrutiny on Wednesday, when he took the stand on the third day of an inquiry into misconduct allegations against him.
Cele said he had come close to signing a R3bn public-private partnership 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.
At the time, the police were on a month-to-month lease at Wachthuis, which had inadequate space.
Cele said accommodation had been discussed a long time before he was appointed commissioner by President Jacob Zuma in July 2009.
The urgent need for accommodation was triggered by the World Cup, as an efficient and effective communications team needed office space, he said when asked by evidence leader Viwe Notshe why he had approached a senior police official about the accommodation issue.
"The issue has been there since around 2004 and 2005. I found it there," Cele said.
He described how, three weeks after he took office, Hlela proposed that he sign the contract to build new headquarters.
After applying his mind, he decided not to sign and 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."
Cele portrayed Hlela as a dubious person who had gone behind his back and made decisions without informing him.
"There are many other things I can tell you [about him]."
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 that followed led to him approaching the special investigating unit to probe the police's procurement department.