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Cele unfit to be National Police Commissioner - DA submission

Dianne Kohler Barnard, Shadow Minister of Police
26 February 2012

The Democratic Alliance (DA) today made its submission to the South African Police Service (SAPS) Board of Inquiry into the suspended National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele’s fitness to hold office. This follows my visit to the Berea police station in Durban this morning to make a sworn statement.

The board is mandated to enquire into whether Mr Cele acted corruptly or failed to prevent the contravention of public finance law in the signing of leases for the SAPS at the Middestad building in Pretoria and the Transnet building in Durban.

In addition to the findings and recommendations of the Public Protector, the DA’s submission outlines a number of developments that draw into question Mr Cele’s fitness to hold the office. These include:

  • The acquisition of a R4 million residence and luxury furnishings for Mr Cele, which he signed off for himself as accounting officer;
  • The increase of irregular expenditure by the SAPS from R2.5 million to R76 million for the 2010 / 2011 financial year;
  • The fact that Mr Cele only signed off on the two National Police Days for 2010 and 2011 weeks before the events, avoiding proper tendering procedures;
  • The irregular expenditure of R13.6 million on the 2010 National Police Day, long with the expenditure of R12 million on performing artists for the event;
  • The alleged abuse and spurious use of pension payouts for SAPS members under section 35 of the SAPS Act which amounts to R31.2-million in the last two years.

Additionally, Mr Cele’s conduct with regards to the control and management of the police indicate that he is unfit for the position, including:

  • His instruction to SAPS members in Johannesburg on 7 December 2009 to “use deadly force” which is contrary to the spirit of section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act (No. 51 of 1977, as amended) and the provisions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights;
  • The reintroduction of military ranks in the SAPS;
  • The increase of incidents of police brutality considering the above;
  • His offensive and ill-informed comments which may have compromised the case against Shrien Dewani and undermined the course of justice in our country;
  • The questionable arrest of Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika following his denouncement by Cele after the expose of the lease deal scandal; and
  • The raid on the offices of the Public Protector in February 2011 following the publication of the report into the lease deal scandal and Cele’s chastisement of the Public Protector.

Given the seminal role of the SAPS in combatting rampant incidents of serious crime in South Africa it is imperative that the management, control and accounting of the SAPS be undertaken by a National Commissioner that is, beyond question, fit to hold that office.

Considering the information and evidence outlined in its submission the DA believes that Mr Cele is unfit to occupy this office. We trust that the board takes this into account when making its final recommendations.