Sunday, February 6, 2011

Probe nails Police Chief General Bheki Cele

Probe nails Cele
'The lease deal is illegal and should be cancelled'
Police chief General Bheki Cele's R500-million deal to relocate his headquarters was illegal and should have been cancelled through an urgent high court application.

" quote The investigation has also called into question the SAPS's claim that there was not enough time to put the lease out to tender quote
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This is one of several explosive conclusions contained in official documents submitted to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the public protector, who are both looking into the transaction.

The contract with businessman and friend of President Jacob Zuma Roux Shabangu was exposed by the Sunday Times in August last year.

Cele denied playing any role in driving the leasing of the building, saying he had merely signed a "needs assessment".

However the state investigation reveals that:

* Cele personally identified Sanlam Middestad as the building the SA Police Service's top brass and other units would move to - at least one week before a needs assessment was ever done for all this space;
* The SAPS pressured officials from the Department of Public Works to push through the deal;
* Just a year earlier the SAPS had rejected a significantly cheaper offer to lease the same building;
* Shabangu negotiated the deal directly with the SAPS, which accepted and approved his terms, instead of dealing with public works;
* Shabangu may have doctored the lease after it was signed, including by increasing the rental from R2.8-million a month to R3.3-million;
* Top public works officials should have faced disciplinary action for their role in the debacle; and
* The deal contravened the constitution, the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations, and should not have been approved.

Shabangu declined to answer detailed questions this week.

But he admitted to having been grilled on the same issues by SIU head Willie Hofmeyr and the public protector.

The investigation has also called into question the SAPS's claim that there was not enough time to put the lease out to tender as it urgently needed bigger office space for the 2010 Fifa World Cup communications centre.

Cele and his top brass signed a memo stating there was no money available for the lease. However, the very next day, the funding was approved.

The Sunday Times has also established that Shabangu showed the SAPS top brass "his" building weeks before he had concluded an agreement to purchase it.

He has previously claimed that flouting tender rules was justifiable as Sanlam Middestad was the only suitable building available.

The investigation, however, revealed that Sanlam Middestad was substandard and required "substantial renovations" before the police could move in.

The revelations cast serious doubt on a decision in December by the Minister of Public Works, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, to honour the contract - just three weeks after taking office.

Her predecessor, Geoff Doidge, was advised, before he was fired, to cancel the deal . He declined to comment .

Cele, through his spokesman, Colonel McIntosh Polela, refused to answer detailed questions.

"This issue is before the office of the public protector. It follows that the SAPS will not participate in this parallel process that you seek to subject it to," he said.

Mahlangu-Nkabinde's spokesman, Obakeng Modikoe, undertook to respond to questions, but failed to do so.

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