Cele wants answers from top cop over police's links to failed bid to buy R45m eavesdropping device

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Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Police Minister Bheki Cele.
File, Adrian de Kock
  • Bheki Cele wants an explanation from police commissioner Khehla Sitole over a damning court judgment.
  • The court action centred on three dubious procurement deals, one of which was alleged to be a cover to illegally extract millions to sway the outcome of the ANC's Nasrec elective conference. 
  • Cele ordered that Sitole and police top brass explain "their involvement" in the deals.

Police Minister Bheki Cele put top cop Khehla Sitole on terms, giving him just 24 hours to produce a report on his role in a failed bid to splurge R45 million on a sophisticated eavesdropping device ahead of the ANC's 2017 Nasrec elective conference.

Cele's charge came after a ruling handed down by the Pretoria High Court last month, in which Sitole was ordered to declassify a trove of procurement documents linked to a string of dubious deals.  

Moreover, Judge Norman Davis found that Sitole and two of his deputies, Francinah Vuma and Leonard Tsumane, had "breached their duties" in failing to cooperate with police watchdog IPID, tasked with probing the multimillion-rand purchases. 

READ | SIU PPE probe reveals 'flagrant disregard of law'

In a tersely worded letter sent to Sitole on Friday, obtained by News24, Cele called for a report on three tainted deals at the centre of the court ruling - one of which is the procurement of the eavesdropping device, known as a grabber.   

The grabber - which is capable of intercepting cell phone calls and messages - was to be procured from a company called I-View at a staggeringly inflated price, with similar devices available from between R7m to R10m on the open market.

IPID investigators alleged that I-View was the conduit through which millions were to be laundered before making their way into the pockets of ANC delegates at Nasrec as an incentive to vote for a certain faction within the party.

Khehla Sitole, national police commissioner.
Melinda Stuurman/SON

"I have been requested by the president to respond to certain issues in respect of the judgment," Cele wrote, adding that he had not yet been briefed by SAPS management on the implications of the ruling. 

READ | Cele concedes treated pensioners harsher than beach protesters in Cape Town

The minister ordered that Sitole produce a report, which encompassed Sitole's involvement in the procurement, as well as that of Vuma and Tsumane.

"All legal costs that have been spent so far for this matter must be provided as well as a copy of the approval document authorising legal expenditure in this litigation," he added. 

Cele's spokesperson Lirandzu Themba confirmed that Sitole had submitted his report on Monday.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said any correspondence between the minister and the national commissioner would stay between them.  

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