06.03.2012. Suspended National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele contemplates during his appearance infront of an enquiry that is looking into corruption charges brought against him. The enquiry is taking place at Munitoria building in Pretoria. Picture: Sizwe Ndingane

It is the end of the road for suspended national police commissioner General Bheki Cele, after a board of inquiry recommended that he be fired from his position.

But Cele’s spokesman has said he would fight the report recommending his dismissal, it was reported on Friday.

Several sources have told The Star that discussions were under way to get a suitable candidate to replace him after the board found he wasn’t fit to hold the office.

The Star understands that Nathi Nhleko, currently a director at the Department of Labour, and who hails from KwaZulu-Natal, is the favourite to replace Cele.

A source, who did not want to be identified, said: “When Cele was suspended, we knew he was not going to come back. The president could not fire him, but he had to follow all procedures first.”

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

A board of inquiry, chaired by Judge Jake Moloi, was mandated to establish whether Cele had acted corruptly, dishonestly or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two police lease deals signed with businessman Roux Shabangu.

The inquiry also had to determine his fitness to hold office.

Cele denied any wrongdoing.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj last night denied Nhleko had been appointed in Cele’s place.

He said Cele was still the national commissioner.

He confirmed that the inquiry had briefed Zuma on its findings on Sunday.

“The president has received the report and is processing it and until then he will not engage in speculation,” Maharaj said.

“There is no basis for the speculation,” he said. “The president will announce his response in due course.”

Cele’s spokesman, Vuyo Mkhize, told The Witness Cele would consider “all available avenues to challenge the validity of the report, including a review application to the high court”.– Additional reporting by Gaye Davis and Shanti Aboobaker

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The Star, Sapa