National Commissioner Bheki Cele speaks during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press at his office in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday Feb. 22, 2010. Cele said the World Cup's legacy for police has meant new equipment for his force and training for his officers with experts from Britain, France, Germany, the United States and elsewhere. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

The board of inquiry into suspended national police commissioner Bheki Cele’s fitness to hold office has recommended that he be sacked, the eNews channel has reported.

Discussions were immediately under way last night to get a suitable candidate to replace him after the board found he was not fit to hold office as South Africa’s police chief.

According to the eNews report on Thursday night, the board of inquiry found that Cele lacked the capacity to execute his official duties efficiently and was not fit to hold office.

The television news channel reported that the board found his grave misconduct as national police commissioner and his apparent unlawful conduct proved that he was unable to hold office.

It reported that evidence also suggested there was a questionable relationship between Cele and property tycoon, Roux Shabangu.

The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that the three-person inquiry unanimously recommended Cele be sacked.

The paper said Cele was fighting back. He has lashed out at the report as a “a crude stitch-up job” and has given notice that he will seek an urgent review.

The board’s finding that Cele was dishonest is based on its acceptance of the evidence of Hamilton Hlela, the former deputy national commissioner in charge of procurement and the man who has emerged as Cele’s nemesis in the leasing saga.

According to the Mail & Guardian, the report found there was “no reason to doubt” Hlela’s evidence.

It noted: “This is corroborated by the fact that, on the same afternoon, Shabangu, a person completely unknown to Hlela, telephoned him.

“The most plausible and reasonable inference to be drawn from the set of facts is that the national commissioner knew Shabangu and that he gave him Hlela’s contact numbers. He consequently thus had an interest in Shabangu securing the lease.”

The report concludes: “The evidence established that the national commissioner, as the accounting officer of the SAPS, grossly misconducted himself with regard to the procurement of the Sanlam Middestad and the Transnet buildings…


“The evidence demonstrated that the national commissioner favoured the buildings owned by Shabangu and that he, together with Shabangu, pushed for the entire buildings in both Pretoria and Durban to be leased by the SAPS, even when the needs analysis showed that a lesser amount of lettable space was required.

“The insistence of the national commissioner on his innocence in this regard demonstrates palpably that he fails to appreciate the nature and importance of the responsibilities attached to his position,” the report said.

However President Jacob Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, said: “

The president has received the report and is processing it and until then he will not engage in speculation. There is no basis for the speculation,” he said.

Sources who did not want to be identified indicated that Nathi Nhleko, currently director-general of the Department of Labour, was a favourite candidate to take over from Cele.

“When Cele was suspended, we knew he was not going to come back. The president could not fire him, he had to follow all the procedures first,” said a source.

Cele’s counsel, advocate Vincent Maleka SC, said last night that he had not seen the inquiry’s report and so could not confirm whether it had been recommended that Cele be removed.

Cele was suspended in November by Zuma after two damning reports by Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, on his alleged flouting of tender processes in the two lease deals, worth a combined R1.6 billion.

Zuma established an inquiry into Cele’s fitness to hold office.

The board of inquiry, chaired by Judge Jake Moloi, was mandated to decide whether or not Cele had acted corruptly, dishonestly, or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two police lease deals signed with Shabangu – for the buildings in Pretoria and Durban.

The board of inquiry also had to determine his fitness to hold office and his capacity to execute his duties efficiently.

During the inquiry, Cele denied any wrongdoing.

Sources indicate it is almost a done deal that Nhleko, who is from KwaZulu-Natal, will get the nod to take over the position of national police commissioner.

Nhleko has served Parliament as chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration and regional commissioner for Correctional Services in KZN.

Moloi presented the inquiry’s 113-page report to Zuma on Sunday.

Madonsela found Cele’s action involving the leases unlawful and amounted to misconduct.

The team, which led evidence against Cele in the inquiry, called for his dismissal.