Cele at war over report

2011-01-15 21:19

National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele is preparing to go to war over a report by the Public Protector that found he, the police and the Department of Public Works were wrong in signing a multimillion-rand lease agreement with property tycoon Roux Shabangu.

City Press has reliably learned:
»?Cele is considering interdicting Public Protector Thuli Madonsela from releasing her report into the leasing of Shabangu’s Middestad building in Pretoria;

»?Cele’s chief legal adviser Lieutenant General Julius Molefe and lawyers are interrogating police staff who were interviewed by the Public Protector; and

»?A legal opinion commissioned by former public works minister Geoff Doidge, shortly before he was sacked by President Jacob Zuma, also found the lease agreement with Shabangu to be “null and void” and that Doidge subsequently cancelled the contract.

Shortly after her appointment in November new Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde obtained a separate legal opinion from a state legal adviser that contradicted the senior counsel opinion obtained by Doidge. She accepted this opinion and rectified the deal with Shabangu, a friend of Zuma’s.

Law enforcement sources and people close to the Public Protector’s investigation told City Press this week a showdown was looming between Cele and Madonsela over the publication of her report.

Cele has until Friday to respond to the report, which was compiled by the Public Protector and ­Special Investigating Unit.

The New Age has reported that Cele has hired top law firm Bowman Gilfillan to assist him with his response.

Madonsela is obliged by law to ask for comment from those she investigates, but is under no duty to incorporate Cele’s response or change her report.

Cele’s spokesperson McIntosh Polela stressed yesterday that Madonsela’s report contained “preliminary or interim findings”.

“The report carries a stamp of confidentiality and therefore we are not going to comment on its contents and you ought not to be having this information,” he said.

Cele has consistently denied being involved in negotiating the lease of Shabangu’s 18-floor building at a cost of more than R500?million for 10 years.

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