Tuesday, August 10, 2010

'Quiz Cele on motive for Wa Afrika arrest'

9 August 2010, 07:40
Parliament's police oversight committee has been asked to quiz national police commissioner General Bheki Cele over possible political motives behind the arrest of Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika.

It follows revelations by the newspaper on Sunday that Wa Afrika's high-profile arrest on Wednesday followed a complaint laid by Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza with the Nelspruit police.

MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, the DA spokeswoman on police, said she had written to the chairwoman of the National Assembly committee, ANC MP Sindi Chikunga, to ask Cele to explain whether he played a role in the arrest.

This was necessary, she said, particularly because the arrest had come hot on the heels of Wa Afrika exposing an allegedly irregular R500 million lease for new police headquarters in Pretoria.

Kohler Barnard first made the request on Friday when the committee was hearing submissions on a bill aimed at overhauling and renaming the police watchdog, the Independent Complaints Directorate, to give it more teeth to probe police abuses of power.

She believed Wa Afrika's expose of the lease deal, which did not go out to tender, and Wa Afrika's arrest were "inextricably linked".

The Public Protector is already investigating the deal with the "politically connected" owner of the building, Roux Shabangu.

Wa Afrika appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Friday on charges of fraud, forgery and uttering. He was released on R5 000 bail.

An allegedly forged letter of resignation, purportedly written by Mabuza to President Jacob Zuma in June, is understood to lie behind the arrest.

Mabuza's spokesman, Mabutho Sithole, could not be reached for comment.

Both Cele and the Public Works Department last week denied any wrongdoing or that political favours were involved in the agreement to lease Shabangu's building for R500m over the next 10 years.

Public Works insisted it signed the lease and not Cele, who had only signed off on a police accommodation needs assessment. Failure to call for tenders was defended on the grounds that the need was urgent.

Wa Afrika was arrested soon after Cele had told journalists that the "unwarranted negative publicity" created by the report gave credence to the need for the ANC's proposed statutory body to regulate the media.

"The fact that Wa Africa was arrested a day-and-a-half after this means MPs need to know what is going on with the arrest and the building lease... and what role the commissioner played," Kohler-Barnard told The Star.

Chikunga said on Suday she had yet to receive the DA's formal request.

This article was originally published on page 6 of The Star on August 09, 2010

The Star

Comments by Sonny

Will Cele take the same route as Selebi?

His GPS seems to indicate so!

His journals are being written as we speak!

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