Board recommends dismissal of SA police commissioner
THE CREDIBILITY of South Africa’s police leadership was dealt a significant new blow yesterday by reports that a board of inquiry investigating the actions of suspended police commissioner Gen Bheki Cele has recommended his dismissal.
The three-person inquiry was established by the president after Gen Cele was accused of misconduct relating to two controversial police headquarters leasing deals worth millions of euros in a report released by the public protector earlier this year.
Public protector Thuli Madonsela found Gen Cele’s actions in relation to leases entered into with businessman Roux Shabangu – on which hugely inflated prices were signed off – were improper, unlawful and amounted to misconduct.
Local newspapers reported yesterday the board found in its report that Gen Cele’s apparent unlawful conduct proved he was unable to hold office.
The report was given to President Jacob Zuma’s office last Sunday, but the president has yet to comment on the matter.
The board of inquiry’s recommendation has come as a huge blow to the South African police service, the leadership of which has been discredited a number of times over the past few years.
Gen Cele’s predecessor, Jackie Selebi, was found guilty of corruption by the Johannesburg high court in August 2010 and he is serving a 15-year jail sentence. He was found to have taken bribes from a convicted drug dealer.
More recently, police spy boss Lieut Gen Richard Mdluli has been the subject of intense speculation over his future after he was surprisingly reinstated to a senior job in March despite the existence of a number of investigations into his conduct.
Allegations surfaced that Mr Zuma personally intervened to get Mr Mdluli his job back, but the president’s office denied this.
Mr Mdluli was suspended from the police last October after he was charged with defrauding the crime intelligence unit’s slush fund and with murdering the husband of his former lover in 1999.
Democratic Alliance shadow police minister MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said the scandals surrounding Gen Cele and Mr Selebi had done untold damage to the police force, which was now virtually “crippled at the top”.