Protector entitled to SIU assistance

2011-02-24 22:39

Johannesburg - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is entitled to enlist the aid of the special investigating unit in her investigations, her office said on Thursday, after the unit's involvement in the probe into an SAPS lease agreement was criticised.

"For the public protector the issue is not about who helped her with the investigation, but it is more about whether her findings were materially flawed or justified in law and in fact," spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said in a statement.

"The decision to involve the SIU was further part of leveraging state resources as she [Madonsela] has, on more than one occasion, indicated that her office does not have adequate capacity to fully execute its mandate."

Segalwe was responding to comments made by national police commissioner Bheki Cele at a media briefing earlier on Thursday.

Madonsela released a report on Wednesday which found Cele guilty of maladministration and improper conduct over a lease agreement the SAPS entered into for new police headquarters.

Cele told journalists that when he took office he was concerned over SAPS procurement policies and enlisted the help of the SIU - this is the same unit, headed by Willie Hofmeyr, who helped the public protector with her five-month investigation.

It was, said Cele, a matter of concern that the SIU had worked together with the public protector on the report.

He said that prior to Madonsela releasing her report, the SAPS had expressed concerns over the impact such co-operation would have on the independence of the public protector.

The right thing

"The public protector has investigated the complaints lodged with her in regard to the lease... reported on her investigation, and took the remedial action... It is now up to the state to do the right thing," Segalwe said.

He said the protector did not wish to engage with the SAPS in public regarding the report but welcomed discussions on her findings on a "one-to-one basis".

"All the issues raised during the SAPS press conference today [Thursday] have been addressed in the report in question."

Cele said the police were seeking legal advice as he disputed the public protector's findings that he was involved in improper, unlawful conduct that amounted to maladministration.

"Her finding that I was involved in improper, unlawful conduct which amounted to maladministration is disputed.

"I do not see how the public protector made these findings against me on an issue which is not my responsibility," Cele said.

She found that the accounting officer of the public works department was also guilty of improper conduct and maladministration.

Madonsela found invalid the lease between the public works department and property tycoon Roux Shabangu's Roux Property Fund.

She said that although Cele did not sign the actual lease, he did sign a memorandum dated May 10 2010, which authorised funding for the lease.

'Untrue allegations'

Cele said that while he respected the office of the public protector, he had been "subjected to untrue allegations".

"Where in the public protector's report does it show that I am corrupt?" he asked.

He said he had been found guilty by virtue of his position, but that he was entitled to delegate responsibility.

"I am entitled to delegate responsibilities, but that does not divest me of ultimate responsibility as the accounting officer of the police."

He said that even the pubic protector could not find an improper relationship between himself and Shabangu.

- SAPA

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