Bheki Cele's gym spin

2011-02-27 17:36
Johannesburg - The police wanted a gymnasium, spin studio and cafeteria – almost half the size of a soccer field – to justify their need for a massive new R500m head office.

This is revealed in needs analysis documents submitted to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who slammed National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele and Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde this week for negotiating an unlawful and ­irregular lease agreement with businessman Roux Shabangu.

The public fallout after the ­release of Madonsela’s hard-hitting report is threatening to split the country’s criminal justice cluster, with Cele publicly lashing out at Madonsela and special investigating unit head Willie Hofmeyr for producing a report that is, ­according to him, legally and factually flawed.

Cele, Madonsela and Hofmeyr are now looking to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to decide whether criminal or disciplinary action should be instituted, and if the R500m deal should be cancelled.

Gordhan told City Press he was committed to taking proper action following the release of Madonsela’s report and would consider criminal charges if need be.

Inside sources close to the process said tension within President Jacob Zuma’s criminal justice cluster escalated to pre-Polokwane levels last week, with heads of these institutions expecting the worst.

The last years of former ­president Thabo Mbeki’s administration were marred by public ­fallouts between the police, the former Scorpions and the intelligence fraternity.

“It won’t be a surprise if Hofmeyr and Madonsela don’t survive this,” said one source, ­emphasising Zuma’s close relationship with Cele.


Zuma’s friendship with Shabangu, who has repeatedly said in ­public he was friendly with the president, was also highlighted.

City Press was referred to ­Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi when questions were sent to Zuma’s office asking him to clarify his friendship with Shabangu and his position on Madonsela’s ­Middestad building investigation.

Neither Zuma nor Manyi ­responded to the questions.

Madonsela also ordered the Cabinet to question Mahlangu-Nkabinde at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday on her decision to revalidate the contract with Shabangu in defiance of advice by two senior counsel, who confirmed the lease agreement was ­unenforcable.

Mahlangu-Nkabinde’s spokesperson said on Saturday she was still studying Madonsela’s report and would comment in the media after briefing Cabinet.


Madonsela’s report has also ­pitted Cele against his former deputy, Hamilton Hlela, a close confidant of former police boss Jackie Selebi, who was in charge of all ­police procurement before taking early retirement last year.

At a press briefing on Thursday, Cele publicly accused Hlela of wrongdoing by claiming he signed off on an irregular R1bn tender in the Eastern Cape; that he ­awarded a tender for the manufacturing of police uniforms to one company after police management had decided to outsource the ­contract to a number of smaller vendors; and that Hlela had bought different police equipment for the 2010 Fifa World Cup than what had been decided on.

Hlela declined to comment.

It is clear in Madonsela’s report that Hlela played a key role in ­conducting the investigation into the Middestad building lease agreement.

While Cele has emphasised he relied on “functionaries” [hinting at Hlela] to make lawful decisions during procurement processes, Hlela told Madonsela “he was ­unwilling to question the decisions and instructions of the National Commissioner (Cele)” because of the police’s culture of not questioning superiors.

In September 2009, Cele ­centralised the awarding of all ­tenders of more than R500 000 in his office.

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