Cele’s conduct was ‘improper’

2012-03-31 18:46

Forty-seven. That’s the number of times the state alleges that suspended police commissioner General Bheki Cele contravened procurement laws in the awarding of two controversial police leases.

This fact is contained in the state’s heads of argument to the board of inquiry appointed by President Jacob Zuma to probe Cele’s fitness to do his job. The state’s advocate, Viwe Notshe, has urged the board to recommend that Zuma “remove Cele from office”.

Notshe asked the board, headed by Judge Jake Moloi, to find Cele guilty of corruption, acting with an undeclared conflict of interest, and incapable of executing his duties efficiently.

He says Cele played a corrupt role in the awarding of two leases worth R1.68 billion to businessman Roux Shabangu.

He also says that Cele’s conduct in allegedly identifying the Middestad building in Pretoria and his instruction to then-deputy Hamilton Hlela that someone would call him about “a building” was unacceptable and improper.

“It is quite plain that (Cele) knew Shabangu and, for reasons best known to himself, wanted Shabangu’s company to get the contract,” the State says. Notshe notes that Shabangu’s involvement in another police lease for Durban’s Transnet building could not have been a “coincidence”.

He said Cele breached the Public Finance Management Act, the SA Police Act and the Constitution when authorising the deals despite being informed that there was no money available.

While the State says it could not find any evidence that police generals colluded with Cele, it argues there is “a high suspicion” of collusion.

Notshe says Cele was dishonest for “passing the buck to his subordinates”, even when Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found against him.

“A person who ignores prescripts and eschews getting advice that is readily available is unfit to hold office.”

Meanwhile, in his heads of argument Cele says that his deputies, former public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and her officials were to blame.

Cele, facing fresh allegations that he signed off on a R26 million contract which did not go out to tender, questioned the “motives” of the State.

“We have regrettably come to the inescapable conclusion that their conduct evidences a desire to blemish the career, name or person of (Cele) and his achievements,” says Advocate Vincent Maleka of Notshe and his team.

Cele also says the state has presented no evidence of corruption against him.

Maleka argues that both Madonsela and Hlela “unequivocally rejected any suggestion that” Cele was corrupt as there was no evidence to suggest this.

Hlela testified that he would have opened a case of corruption against Cele had he found any evidence.

“Madonsela did not find any evidence that an improper relationship between Shabangu and Cele motivated the deviation from the required tender procedures,” says Maleka.

Cele says when he authorised the leases he did so “innocently believing that the property had been properly identified by the supply chain management personnel.”

He believes that he has carried out his primary duties to maintain public order, protect and secure the public and uphold the law, “beyond any doubt”.

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