DURBAN, April 9 – Police Minister Bheki Cele on Tuesday, said he felt “vindicated” after the Pretoria High Court dismissed the reasons used by former president Jacob Zuma to fire him as national police commissioner in 2012.
Cele served as national commissioner under Zuma from July 2009 to June 2012 until Zuma dismissed him on the strength of the Moloi Commission of Inquiry, which was chaired by the now late Judge Jake Moloi.
The inquiry was initiated by Zuma after the public protector found in 2011 that Cele’s involvement in deals to acquire police office space in the run-up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup was “improper, unlawful, and amounted to maladministration”.
Then public protector Thuli Madonsela tabled two reports concerning two lease agreements in Pretoria and Durban worth more than R1.7 billion that the South African Police Service (SAPS) wanted to sign with businessman Roux Shabangu between March and July 2010.
Moloi concluded in 2012, that the evidence produced before him “proved abundantly that there was a questionable relationship between the national commissioner and Shabangu on one hand and between Shabangu and Public Works officials who facilitated the lease agreements on the other”.
Cele immediately took the matter on review.
According to Tuesday’s court order, the inquiry report had since been “reviewed and set aside”.
“Without re-instating the applicant (Cele) into his position as the national commissioner, the decision by the (president) contained in the letter dated June 2012… discharging the applicant as the national commissioner of police, be and is declared to be invalid and of no force and effect,” said the order.
In a statement issued by Reneilwe Serero, Cele’s spokesperson, she said the minister felt “vindicated by the decision of the North Gauteng High Court”.
Among the respondents in the review application was the deceased Moloi and his assistants, the national police commissioner, minister of police and the presidency.
“Cele has over the years always maintained that [the board of inquiry’s] specific findings, conclusions and recommendations, holding that he was, in relation to the procurement of building leases for the housing of the South African Police Services was ‘dishonest’ ‘in conflict of interest’ and ‘in breach of section 38 of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999′; were irrational, biased, lacked credence and defied logic,” said the statement.
The statement said even during the board’s inquiry, “there was undisputed evidence regarding General Cele’s unblemished and sterling track record in the police and capabilities in combating and preventing crime in the country”.
“The fight against crime continues, and I remain even more committed to work with the police to combat, prevent and investigate crime in our country, thus creating a safe and secure South Africa where all the inhabitants are and feel safe. Equally, I also convey words of appreciation and support to ordinary South Africans and the legal team who have been pillars of strength during the seven-year court debacle to clear my name,” said Cele. (ANA)