Sunday, October 3, 2010

Glitz, glamour and a no-fly zone

Lavish wedding allows Cele a breather from controversies surrounding him
Oct 3, 2010 12:00 AM | By MONICA LAGANPARSAD
The wedding of the national police commissioner fulfilled all the criteria of a celebrity union: glitz, glamour, fine wines, signature gifts, confidentiality agreements, anonymous hotel reservations and a no-fly zone.

TENDER MOMENT: The bride and groom exchange rings
Two gowns, slippers, chocolates and champagne were included in the package

Gifts for the general who has it all
Pennington all agog at A-list of guests

Hundreds of white rose petals and lilies decorated the tents and gazebo.

The divorced 53-year-old police boss married his 32-year-old fiancée, Thembeka Ngcobo, in Pennington, a quaint, remote coastal resort on KwaZulu-Natal's South Coast.

For several hours yesterday Cele, who splashed out an undisclosed amount on his wedding, briefly forgot about the controversy that has plagued his term as the country's top cop.

The Sunday Times last month revealed how Cele approved a 10-year lease worth more than R500-million - without going to tender - to acquire a building owned by a friend of Jacob Zuma's, Roux Shabangu.

The acquisition of the building, which is intended to become the new police headquarters, is part of an Special Investigation Unit investigation.

But yesterday, Cele shelved his troubles as he said "I do" to Ngcobo.

The wedding had been a closely guarded secret, with even the names of the more than 340 guests kept under wraps.

But late yesterday afternoon, the guests arrived, driving past dozens of journalists camped outside the wedding venue, Lynton Hall, and through the iron gates which were manned by more than 20 private security guards.

Guests included President Jacob Zuma and his nephew Khulubuse Zuma, the minister of justice, Jeff Radebe, the minister in the presidency, Collins Chabane , and the minister of police, Nathi Mthethwa.

Others who were spotted were former SABC boss Dali Mpofu, KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize, soccer boss Irvin Khoza and S'bu Mpisane, a controversial multimillionaire businessman.

Despite the secrecy, the Sunday Times can reveal that:

A special tent, with a TV and satellite dish, was erected for Zuma on the lawns. He was scheduled to only attend the ceremony and spend most of the afternoon secluded in the tent;
Cele booked the R3370 a night honeymoon suite at the luxury Selborne Hotel, Spa & Golf Estate, opposite the wedding venue, for last night. Two gowns, slippers, chocolates and champagne were included in the package;
The bill to hire a tent with glass walls and a canvas roof, a nomad tent, an air-conditioning unit, two VIP and several executive portable toilets and a generator amounted to more than R275300; and:
The cost of the wedding venue alone, excluding any extras, amounted to more than R15000.
Award-winning chef Andrew Draper, owner of Durban's top restaurant, Harvey's, dished up a seven-course menu that included a vegetarian meal, Karoo lamb, chicken and line fish with a large selection of decadent desserts.

Draper also arranged the decor on the lawns of Lynton Hall, which included an antique love seat for the couple.

Some of the decor, selected by Cele and Ngcobo, included chandeliers inscribed with their initials in black and gold.

The bride wore a gown by celebrity fashion designer Malcolm Klûk.

The bridesmaids were dressed by award-winning Durban designer Gideon. The gowns were in romantic shades of pink, silk satin and encrusted with Swarovski crystals.

It's believed that Cele, who is known for his penchant for fashion and favours Italian designer suits and Panama hats, bought his fitted suit from an up-market boutique in Sandton.

On Friday, several officers, both the police and VIP unit, revealed that additional officers had been called up to work at the wedding.

Several luxury lodges were booked out for the weekend. The grand, up-market 49-bedroom Selborne Hotel had only four suites left by Friday. But an additional suite became available on Saturday after the minister of justice, Radebe, cancelled his reservation.

The minister in the presidency, Collins Chabane, was booked into the stately Botha House, a historic property in Pennington.

On Thursday, plain-clothes police officers and presidential guards were seen sweeping the grounds of Lynton Hall.

A military helicopter, using a helipad specially erected for the occasion, was seen hovering around the property.

Cele and Ngcobo, a communications officer with Metrorail in Tshwane, reportedly met last year at KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize's inauguration dinner.

Times Live

Comments by Sonny

In the Garden of Eden the Grape Juice flows freely, while the poor still suffer!

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