Cele inquiry: Justice rushed is no justice at all

2012-04-03 20:19

Pretoria - Justice delayed is justice denied, and the converse is equally true, Judge Jake Moloi, chairperson of the board of inquiry into the conduct of beleaguered police chief Bheki Cele, said on Tuesday.

The board appreciated the vast considerations it had to make before releasing its report, he said at the end of the second day of closing arguments in the Tshwane council chambers.

"Justice rushed is no justice at all," he said.

"The fact that this matter is of national and international interest needs no further elaboration so that the board should speed up this process and return a report as soon as possible - that's as far as I can commit to go.

"The board has had arguments from both sides. It is incumbent upon the board to go and look at that evidence, assess it and compile the report which must be made available," said Moloi.

"We don't want to rush a report based on no facts at all. We can assure you that… the report will be available soon," he said.

Cele tainted

Moloi commended the media's "widespread coverage of the hearing proceedings". He also saluted other stakeholders who contributed to the running of the event.

In its closing arguments, the evidence-leading team, led by advocate Viwe Notshe SC, insisted that Cele was tainted and that the inquiry had to recommend for his dismissal.

"We submit that if his conduct continues like this, unabated, it will lead to the commission of the crimes he wants to combat," Notshe said.

Some of the witnesses, particularly from the Police and Prisons Civil Rights’ Union (Popcru), were missing the plot, by idolising Cele only because of his contribution to crime combating in the country, he said.

"Combating of crime is one element of the administration. If we do not look after the money, we will not be able to combat crime. If he is a crime fighter and cannot administer money, that is a huge problem."

Notshe slated Cele for the 5 July 5 2010 extension of police's space requirements, which differed from the size approved by the public works department's national bids adjudication board.

"What it means is if the bid adjudication board says you must buy five cars, you will buy 20 because they have said buy cars? That cannot be so. Maladministration of funds is against crime fighting," said Notshe.

He also criticised Cele for approving the extension of space without consulting the police's chief financial officer.

No apology

The space requirement was amended from 21 000 to 25 000m² at a meeting between property tycoon Roux Shabangu, Cele and other police officials.

Notshe said it was disturbing to note that, in light of the findings of the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, Cele had not apologised for his role in the flawed procurement process.

"I waited with bated breath expecting the national commissioner to say: Please forgive me. The findings demonstrate that I am not fit. I took my eyes off the till. Please forgive me.

"We did not get that. We got statements from someone who doesn't appreciate his responsibilities as head of department.

"We submit the board should make a recommendation for his removal. He is unfit to hold office and is incapable of carrying out his duties," Notshe submitted.

Earlier, Cele's representative advocate Vincent Maleka SC urged the inquiry to discard the repeated call for his client to be fired, saying Cele had "discharged his duties as outlined in the Constitution and the [SA Police Services] Act".

Not based on evidence

He said recommending Cele's sacking would be inappropriate.

"It's not based on evidence. We ask you to make a different recommendation. The national commissioner has discharged his duties as outlined in the Constitution and the SAPS Act," said Maleka.

He urged the inquiry to follow in the footsteps of Madonsela, who did not find evidence of an improper relationship between Cele and Shabangu.

Maleka submitted that the Cabinet's view of Cele's conduct should be taken into account as it was significant that the "national Cabinet had not passed a vote of no confidence against General Cele".

"We urge you to take that into account, because it is relevant to the overall conduct of the commissioner.

"We would have thought that the overall conduct of the national commissioner would become more negative to him if Cabinet had expressed a negative view. Cabinet has instead expressed a positive view," said Maleka.

The board of inquiry, appointed by President Jacob Zuma is mandated to establish whether Cele acted corruptly, dishonestly, or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two police lease deals signed with Shabangu, one for a building in Pretoria, another for a building in Durban.

It also has to determine his fitness to hold office, and his capacity to efficiently execute his duties.