Cele looks set to quit

2012-05-28 00:00

BHEKI Cele appears set to throw in the towel this week — even though President Jacob Zuma has yet to indicate whether he has accepted Judge Jake Moloi’s finding that he should fire the country’s top cop.

KZN political sources indicated yesterday that Cele is “gatvol” and wants to bow out as police chief. Indications are that he will look to revive his political career instead, while fighting to clear his name through a judicial review of the Moloi board of inquiry’s findings that he is not fit to hold office. (See story on page 5)

The “last straw” was apparently a Sunday Times report saying criminal action had been recommended, which expanded on an article in The Witness on Friday about the cloud left hanging over Cele’s head in relation to alleged corruption.

The presidency, meanwhile, said last night it could not say when Zuma would decide Cele’s fate. In its 113-page report, the board said that on the evidence before it, it could not be proved Cele had acted corruptly, but promptly blamed this on its lack of powers to subpoena witnesses or conduct searches and seizures.

It recommended to the president that Cele’s relationship with property tycoon Roux Shabangu and some members of the police “be referred to competent authorities for further investigation”.

Yesterday, Vuyo Mkhize, Cele’s spokesperson, repeated that the board’s recommendation that Cele “be further investigated for corruption” despite its “spectacular failure to unearth any evidence to sustain the charge” was “nothing less than a dishonourable and gratuitous insult aimed at tarnishing his reputation”.

“What is particularly galling about this recommendation [is] the fact that it pointedly prevented his counsel, advocate Vincent Maleka, from addressing it on this issue, telling him the issue was irrelevant as no evidence pertaining to this charge had been led.”

Mkhize drew parallels between this and the infamous statement by then National Prosecuting Authority boss Bulelani Ngcuka in 2004 that although there was a prima facie case of corruption against Zuma, “our prospects of success are not strong enough”.

Mkhize added: “I can confirm that General Cele would promptly hand in his resignation the moment he is informed that he is being criminally investigated.

“This should, in no way, be read as confirmation of the information you have received ‘from KZN sources’.”

However, resignation in the circumstances contemplated above would be Cele’s way of showing that he welcomed this investigation in the same way that he had welcomed the three others (by the Sunday Times, the Public Protector and Judge Moloi’s board of inquiry) that “have already failed to unearth any evidence of his much-talked about corruption in relation to these two leases”.

“It would also be his way of ensuring that the SAPS … did not have to endure yet another leadership crisis,” said Mkhize.

He also confirmed that if Cele did quit, he would still launch his application for a judicial review.

Cele is fed up about the protection that has been given to former police supply chain management chief, General Hamilton Hlela, said Mkhize.

Mkhize said that both the board and the Sunday Times had “elected to ignore the piles of evidence of impropriety by General Hlela on their way to pronouncing him a hero”.

They had ignored that Cele had referred Hlela and the police’s supply chain management division to the special investigating unit in November 2009.

Only Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, during the press conference where she presented her final report to the two police HQ leaders, had been candid enough to brand Hlela “an unreliable witness who presented wishy-washy evidence against General Cele designed to divert attention from his own numerous acts of misconduct”.

To this day, said Mkhize, neither Cele nor the country as a whole had been given an update on the Special Investigation Unit’s (SIU) investigation. “Instead, we now have a situation where Judge Moloi has, without showing any cause for doing so, cast serious aspersions on the integrity of lieutenants-general Julius Molefe and Christine Mngwenya — the two officials in General Cele’s office who played a pivotal role in the formulation of the terms of reference of the now moribund SIU investigation into General Hlela.

“It is all these inexplicable coincidences that have led General Cele to start wondering, ‘Is it possible that my drive to clean up the SAPS [supply chain management] division inadvertently set me up on a collision course with powerful forces who are still able to ensure, to this day, that not only is General Hlela not being investigated but that he is profiled as a man of honour at my expense?’,” Mkhize said.

Yesterday, SIU spokesperson Marika Muller said the unit’s investigation into the supply chain management division was ongoing. The president had been briefed on the investigation since it started.

“There’s a lot of work done so far and the whole procurement division of the police is our main focus. We’ve made recommendations for the Hawks to get involved in some instances,” she said.

She would not give details of the nature of the involvement since the investigation was ongoing.

In his reaction, Shabangu, told the Sunday Independent he too would go to court. He said there was no proof that he had even met Cele before the lease deal, let alone manipulated him.

“It clearly shows that there is a lot of incompetence on the board itself. I’m going to take the allegations to court,” he said.

Shabangu will go to court over Cele case

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