Witness doesn't know who chose police HQ
Pretoria - A witness in the misconduct hearing against suspended police chief Bheki Cele did not know who identified a building earmarked for the police's new offices in Durban, the inquiry heard on Wednesday.
Rensky Nel, a senior public works department official, derailed an earlier promise by evidence leader Viwe Notshe that she would testify that Cele identified the building.
"I don't know who from the SA Police Service [SAPS] identified the building," admitted Nel during questioning by Cele's attorney Vincent Maleka.
Maleka responded: "I am glad you don't know because someone suggested at the opening of the inquiry that it is General Cele who identified the building."
The line of question was around compliance or non-compliance with supply-chain management prescripts in a planned lease for the Transnet building in Durban.
Nel, based in the department's KwaZulu-Natal regional office but who serves nationally, testified that she was removed from her portfolio after writing an email to the police raising concern about the Transnet lease.
She queried her removal and was told by her regional manager on July 2010 that Cele issued the instruction because he was "not happy" with her contentions contained in her e-mail, said Nel.
She, however, admitted that she had not heard this directly from Cele.
"This is a very serious claim about someone's integrity," said Maleka.
Cele would deny having anything to do with Nel's removal, he said.
Asked to comment, Nel said she would accept that.
In response to an e-mail from the SAPS, Nel questioned who had issued instructions for "construction" at the Transnet building, as she had no knowledge of that.
She also stated that she did not know the KwaZulu-Natal police needed new offices.
On Monday, the police's former procurement head and deputy commissioner Hamilton Hlela told the inquiry Cele was "fuming" after seeing the email and demanded a meeting with senior officials from the public works department.
Maleka suggested Cele was concerned at Nel's interference in his function to command and control.
The department is mandated to issue procurement instruction after receiving and assessing needs analyses from the SAPS.
Hlela, who retired in August 2010, testified in the last two days that Cele identified both the Durban Transnet and Pretoria's Sanlam Middestad buildings.
On Monday, Maleka said his client would tell the board he had raised issues relating to the police's future accommodation because he knew the lease contract at Servamus was ending.
The inquiry was appointed by President Jacob Zuma last October.
Its brief is to determine whether Cele acted corruptly or dishonestly, or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two leases for police office space.
It will also examine Cele's fitness to hold office and his capacity to efficiently execute his duties.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report, which found Cele's action pertaining to leases for new police headquarters in Pretoria and Durban, valued at R1.6bn, was "improper and unlawful", was instrumental in the board's establishment.