Saturday, September 4, 2010

Suspect deals rife but I'm innocent - Cele

Suspect deals rife but I'm innocent - Cele
2010-09-03 22:33

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Cape Town - Police top brass abused a 2006 decision to let the force manage its own properties with carte blanche to award irregular contracts that wasted millions and enriched outsiders, Parliament heard on Friday.

Police commissioner General Bheki Cele told MPs he was asked to rubberstamp suspect deals from the day he took office in July 2009, suggesting that the practice was common and had carried on for years.

He said he declined a spurious request by former deputy commissioner Hamilton Hlele to sign an R11m contract to renovate his office and that of Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, though the police merely rented the properties.

Months later he learnt by accident that the contract had been signed.

Cele said he subsequently came across a contract essentially outsourcing the police's forensics operations to a company belonging to the spouse of a police official and another, worth R47m, to buy water canons the police did not need.

"We discovered a huge document intercepted in London, completely outsourcing the department.

"There would have been no Saps forensics if that thing was not intercepted," he told Parliament's portfolio committee on police.

Action necessary

Cele said the deals were part of a "slash and grab" mentally on the part of senior officers, and hinted at the involvement of two other deputy commissioners who have, like Hlele, left the force.

Police committee chairperson Sindi Chikunga said the revelations left her disgusted and wishing she could see the men jailed.

"We may as well tell them you have to go to report to the nearest police station. I'm talking about the highest order of mismanagement you can think of at the highest level. It is discouraging and it is really disgusting."

Cele also conceded the police's building management programme, which seeks to devolve responsibility for all 1 127 police stations nationwide from public works to police in coming years, was so badly and unethically managed that "if we had gone to court we would be pleading guilty".

He said 18% of this budget went directly to consultants, partly because the department's capacity was limited, and partly because the personnel it did have, including some 38 bricklayers, merely acted in an oversight capacity.

"Theirs is not to lay bricks - it's to get people from outside and oversee."

Huge cracks in system

The police chief said the faulty logic of not leaving construction in the hands of public works became evident to him when it took five months to construct a simple guard post at his official residence, and a police station was built without toilets.

"Then I understood why the police station takes seven years, if the guard house takes five months...

Public works gives you a lot of headache but the process you get with SAPS cracks your head."

Gary Kruser, the acting commissioner for supply chain management in the police since July, said the division had a deservedly poor reputation. It had neither sound financial planning nor a legitimate procurement system and paid scant regard to customer relations.

"How much money we can spend, how much money we can outsource seems to be the guiding principle of this division," Kruser said.

"It seems that the only customer relations we have is with those people who make money out of us."

Dipping hands into honey pot

ANC MP Anneliese van Wyk said the government should revise its decision to allow the police to manage property, because it lacked the capacity to do so, and a plan to clean up the mismanagement of the past four years.

She suggested the request from senior management in March 2006 to devolve responsibility had been motivated by greed.

"It was opening the honey pot and dipping your hands into it," Van Wyk said.

Cele again denied media reports that he too had sidestepped procurement rules and signed a R500m lease for a new police headquarters in Pretoria, saying the department of public service inked the contract now being probed by the Special Investigating Unit.

"The contract has been signed, but there is no Cele (signature). It's not there."


Read more on: corruption sapf bheki cele

Top cop quits amid probe
2010-08-29 15:33

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Johannesburg - The deputy national police commissioner, Lieutenant General Hamilton Hlela, and two of his subordinates have resigned, the office of the national commissioner said on Sunday.

Spokesperson Nonkuleko Mbatha said Hlela resigned in June, for personal reasons.

The Sunday Independent reported that Hlela and two of his subordinates resigned in the middle of a probe involving contracts amounting to R4bn in his department.

Mbatha said the divisional commissioner of supply management unit, Lieutenant General Matthews Siwundla and his subordinate, Major General Stephanus Terblanche resigned in July and August respectively.

"They have reasons which I cannot comment on," Mbatha said.

Hlela was responsible for supply chain management which is at the centre of investigation by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU).

President Jacob Zuma has recently asked the SIU to probe corruption within the SAPS.

The Sunday Independent reported that a preliminary report stated that Hlela had allegedly been aware of corruption in his department since August 2008, but had not acted.

Hlela told the newspaper that he had taken early retirement and would assist investigators if required.

"The investigation must carry... I'm still in South Africa," he told the paper.

Mbatha said national Commissioner, General Bheki Cele, raised the issue of violation of procurement procedures when he met the head of the SIU, Willie Hofmeyr.


Read more on: corruption saps siu willie hofmeyr bheki cele hamilton hlela

Cops in spotlight in corruption probe
2010-08-12 22:41

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has directed the Special Investigating Unit to conduct a probe into corruption in the South African Police Force.

The probe, mainly into procurement, "originates from a referral" by police watchdog, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), the presidency said in a statement on Thursday.

The investigation has the "full support" of the National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele.

The proclamation was gazetted seven days after former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi was sentenced to 15-years in jail for corruption.

It also comes after revelations about a "dodgy" multi-million rand property deal signed by Cele.

The R500m property deal would see police headquarters move to the 18-storey Middestad Sanlam centre in Pretoria, which was owned by billionaire businessman Roux Shabangu, reported the Sunday Times last month.

According to the report the deal was allegedly not treated as a tender, violating Treasury regulations that all government contracts worth over R500 000 go through a bidding process.

The presidency said the SIU would look into the "procurement of and contracting for goods, works or services including leased accommodation, by or on behalf of the Service".

It includes payments that may have been made with "undeclared conflicts of interest" or "conducted or facilitated by the manipulation of the service's supply chain management, procurement or information system management processes" or "in collusion with or through the intervention of the service's personnel".

'Leave no stone unturned'

The probe also extends to "unlawful or irregular conduct by the service's personnel, the service's suppliers and service providers or third parties relating to any one or more of the aforementioned allegations".

The SIU is an independent statutory body that is accountable to Parliament and the president.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions welcomed the investigation, saying it was "in line" with what the union federation has in the past called for.

"We urge the [SIU] to leave no stone unturned to uncover any corruption or misuse of public funds in such areas as the procurement of goods and services, contracts signed, or not signed, by officials or officers with an undeclared conflict of interest and unauthorised, irregular, wasteful or fruitless expenditure in any branch of the SAPS," said spokesperson Patrick Craven in a statement.

Cosatu has taken a tough stance against corruption, even clashing with its alliance partner, the ANC, in its calls for the government to take tougher action against ministers who are linked to corrupt activity.

"Allegations of corruption must be either proved or disproved. Everyone is innocent until proved guilty, but this can only be established when the evidence has been thoroughly investigated," Craven said.


Read more on: corruption icd sapf siu bheki cele jacob zuma

Hawks seize cops' cars, property
2010-08-12 10:19

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Pietermaritzburg - The Hawks seized cars and three properties belonging to four policemen, a clerk and a businessman in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday, the Daily News reported.

Mountain Rise police station's former commissioner Hariram Badul, was arrested in December with Colonel Yunus Khan, Captain Suresh Naraindath, Constable Patrick Nkabini, clerk Edward Isaac, and businessman Sigamoney Pillay, allegedly in connection with the disappearance of government property worth more than R1m.

On Wednesday, the Asset Forfeiture Unit reportedly served Badul with papers restraining his pension and property.

They seized Naraindath’s Toyota Hilux and served him with papers restraining his property, seized a Toyota Corolla at Nkabindi's home and seized two Toyota Hiluxes and a home-built trailer at Pillay’s home.

The unit wanted to take an Opel Corsa from Khan, but it was not at his property.

Badul, who was dismissed from the police on January 29, is also on trial for allegedly changing crime statistics to give the impression that crime had dropped in his area. He is out on bail in that matter.

Khan, Naraindath and Nkabini face police internal disciplinary inquiries.


Read more on: corruption pietermaritzburg sapf hawks

Units were set to probe cop deal
2010-08-07 23:15

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Johannesburg - The R500m rental deal that would see police headquarters move to another building was apparently going to be probed by two groups, the Sunday Times reported on Saturday.

According to the Sunday newspaper, the Public Protector's office confirmed it was investigating the deal, and the corruption-busting Special Investigations Unit was also probing irregular government leases worth billions of rands.

National police commissioner Bheki Cele was reported to having signed the deal in June, without a public tender process, he has since denied the allegations.

The building was only purchased a week ago by billionaire Roux Shabangu, who is apparently politically connected. The police would be renting the building for R500m over a period of ten years.


Read more on: corruption bheki cele

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