Shabangu refuses to testify

2012-03-30 15:59
Pretoria - Controversial property mogul Roux Shabangu has refused to testify before the board of inquiry investigating misconduct allegations against suspended police commissioner Bheki Cele.

As the probe resumed on Friday, board chairperson Judge Jake Moloi said they would have wanted Shabangu to give evidence.

"We, as the board, had invited Mr Shabangu to come and testify, but he has flatly refused to do so."

The matter was postponed two weeks ago after a key witness in the police lease saga stalled proceedings, claiming she was sick and could not testify. Public works official Mokgaetji Tlolane asked to first see a doctor before she gave evidence. She also had problems taking the oath, looking confused.

On Friday, Tlolane took the stand after evidence leader Viwe Notshe had told the board she had brought documents from doctors confirming her illness. Tlolane asked the board not to disclose the nature of her illness, said Notshe.

The evidence-leading team hoped Tlolane's evidence would eliminate the probability that Shabangu could have been tipped off by public works officials that the police needed office space.

Shabangu has identified Tlolane as the person who informed him that the police wanted to lease the Sanlam Middestad building in Pretoria.

Negative findings

This is reportedly contained in a 60-page affidavit Shabangu aims to use to absolve himself of any wrongdoing in the police lease saga. Shabangu claims Tlolane arranged the first meeting with the SA Police Service, and told him the matter would not go out to tender because of its urgency.

Tlolane had been eluding Notshe since the hearing started. She initially demanded a subpoena to appear, and then a letter from her superiors instructing her to do so.

The inquiry is trying to establish whether Cele acted corruptly, dishonestly or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two police lease deals signed with Shabangu, and his fitness to hold office as well as his capacity to efficiently execute his duties.

Cele has consistently claimed he had nothing to do with identifying the two buildings - Sanlam Middestad in Pretoria and Transnet in Durban - for police office space. This was despite Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's negative findings about his role last year.

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