EFF opens criminal case against Cele over alleged interference in PPE corruption probe
Johannesburg – The EFF has opened a criminal case against Police Minister Bheki Cele for defeating the ends of justice and interfering in the investigation of a Crime Intelligence personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement process.
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi opened the case at the Sunnyside police station in Pretoria on Monday. The EFF describes Cele’s actions as a classic case of political interference.
The red berets plan to pile more pressure on Cele by laying a complaint with the public protector over the same issue.
The party accuses Cele of interfering in national police commissioner General Kehla Sitole's decision to suspend six crime intelligence officials while a probe is conducted concerning the procurement of PPE using money sourced from the crime intelligence secret service slush fund.
Sitole suspended the officials early last month. The five include national crime intelligence head Lieutenant-General Peter Jacobs and five others.
Sitole had acted on an alert from Inspector-General of Intelligence Dr Setlohomamaru Dintwe about possible irregularities in the PPE procurement process at crime intelligence.
The commissioner went ahead with the suspensions, but not before Cele wrote to him, arguing that the suspensions could happen only once Dintwe’s final report was delivered to him as the minister of police.
Following the suspensions, Jacobs and his colleagues failed in their attempt to convince the Pretoria High Court that their suspension violated parts of the Intelligence Services Oversight Act.
The high court found that Sitole had the legal basis to suspend the officers. Cele's arguments and that of the officers were last week dismissed by the court.
The EFF says Cele had no legal basis for interfering in the corruption investigation at Crime Intelligence and for attempting to shield Jacobs from accountability because the two have a relationship that dated from the apartheid years.
Ndlozi said the police had assured the party that the matter would be investigated.
He alluded to the fact that Cele could possibly have involved in PPE corruption scandal.
"We have an assurance from the police that the matter will be prioritised. But we are not going to leave it there, we are also going to report him (Cele) to the public protector because what he did is a perfect case of the ways in which politicians undermine investigations into corruption," Ndlozi said outside Sunnyside police station while flanked by a few EFF supporters.
"The national police commissioner was very clear that his basis for the suspension was that he believes that the allegations are substantial.
’’He was interfering and we have a reason to believe that, taking the history of Bheki Cele in relations to the SAPS themselves, he may have very well been involved in the procurement. We want the investigation not to stop; it must expose the political interference and the links there."
Cele's spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said the minister believed his actions, in calling for the suspension of Jacobs and others to be halted, was sound and based on law.