Police lease deal had to be funded - witness
Pretoria - Since Bheki Cele had already signed off on lease documents, money had to be found by re-prioritising police projects, the inquiry into the suspended police commissioner's conduct heard on Monday.
In a brief appearance before the board in Pretoria, SA Police Service chief financial officer Lieutenant General Stephan Schutte said under normal circumstances, funds for police projects were raised before committing to a transaction.
He said even re-prioritisation normally preceded signing of a deal.
According to a June 2010 memo by Schutte, read to the inquiry on Monday: "As the national police commissioner approved the lease already, funds have to be made available which means something else has to be foregone and re-prioritised."
During cross-examination last week, Cele admitted approving funding for the R1.1m Durban building lease, knowing there was no money for the project in police coffers.
"As a matter of fact, there were no funds available. But I also knew there could be re-prioritisation when needed," said Cele.
He however could not say which areas were re-prioritised to pay the lease for the building, claiming he could not remember.
Cele told the inquiry there was a pressing need for police accommodation because the lease for the Servamus building in Durban, worth about R1m a month, was about to expire.
At the time, what mattered was the availability of the building, rather than funding, he said.
The inquiry is trying to establish whether Cele acted corruptly, dishonestly or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two police leases, signed with businessman Roux Shabangu; his fitness to hold office; and his capacity to efficiently execute his duties.
President Jacob Zuma appointed the inquiry in October 2011.