Witness a no-show at Cele hearing
Jonisayi Maromo and Hlengiwe Nhlabathi
Pretoria - A witness meant to testify in the misconduct inquiry against suspended national police commissioner Bheki Cele did not show up on Tuesday after her union advised her to stay away.
It emerged she had been told not to sign a letter sent to her by evidence leader advocate Viwe Notshe, requesting her to testify against Cele.
It was believed that she belonged to the SA Police Union
"She was about to sign and the union representatives instructed her not to sign until she is subpoenaed," Notshe told the inquiry, sitting in Pretoria.
Notshe's request for a short adjournment was turned down by inquiry chairperson Judge Jake Moloi, who described the situation as unfortunate. He postponed the matter to Thursday.
Notshe said his two juniors would come back with the witness and her signed affidavit.
Notshe refused to disclose to journalists and Cele's defence who the witness was, as it was a "delicate" matter.
He expressed disappointment at the postponement.
Cele's attorney advocate Vincent Maleka criticised the delay.
"These were foreseeable problems and should have been dealt with a long time ago," he said.
In postponing the matter, Moloi said the board was also struggling to get in touch with the police's chief operations officer Lieutenant General Bonang Mgwenya and KwaZulu-Natal's provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni.
Their names have featured frequently since the start of the hearing last week.
The board was also struggling to get hold of acting national police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.
"Attempts were made earlier to reach them and advise them of the importance of appearing. Mysteriously, none of them are reachable by phone," said Moloi.
He said the matter would be taken up with Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa "to see to it" that they appeared before the hearing.
"This is a very important issue and it ought to receive the attention it deserves, even at ministerial level," said Moloi.
"Consequently, this board must adjourn, anticipating the witnesses will be brought to this board sitting."
Earlier the hearing was delayed for about four hours.
Cele's defence called its last witness on Monday.
Notshe indicated that he was still looking for two more witnesses, including former public works department director general Siviwe Dongwana. The department oversees procurement processes for the government, including the SAPS.
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 businessman Roux Shabangu, his fitness to hold office and his capacity to efficiently execute his duties.
It emerged on Monday that Cele never sought legal advice for the Sanlam Middestad building in Pretoria, earmarked for use as the police’s new headquarters.
He also admitted to approving R1.1bn funding for the Transnet building in Durban while aware of the fact that there was no money in police coffers. He has also admitted to signing official documents without questioning them.
President Jacob Zuma appointed the inquiry in October 2011 after negative findings about the leases by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.