Former police commissioner Bheki Cele. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - Former national police commissioner Bheki Cele says he is looking forward to reading Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s final report into Nkandla, because the current draft doesn’t have “a shred of evidence” to suggest he was guilty of maladministration.

Two years ago, Cele was fired by President Jacob Zuma after Madonsela found him guilty of maladministration in respect of controversial leases signed by the police with politically connected tycoon Roux Shabangu.

This week it emerged that Cele featured in Madonsela’s draft report into the R200 million in taxpayers’ money that was spent on Zuma’s private homestead in Nkandla.

According to a Mail & Guardian report on Friday, Madonsela informed Cele that the SAPS and the departments of defence and public works had failed to implement and apply proper demand management processes for expenditure on Nkandla, leaving this up to consultants and low-level government officials.

Cele told The Sunday Independent he was informed by Madonsela’s office last month that there might be an “adverse finding” against him in the report.

The Nkandla investigation has been under way since December 2011, and Cele said he was surprised to get the call from Madonsela two years later.

Cele headed the SAPS from September 2009 until he was suspended in 2011.

He said he agreed to meet Madonsela’s staff with his lawyers at her office in Joburg on January 16.

Cele said he was given the interim report, but was told at the outset that if he looked for any reference to his name in the report, he wouldn’t find it.

He said he and his team pored over the report for six hours and only discovered reference to him in the conclusion, where Madonsela had found him, as accounting officer of the SAPS, guilty of maladministration in respect of a chunk of state expenditure at Nkandla.

“I asked for evidence of this, supporting documents or witnesses, and they didn’t provide anything. Anywhere else, you are innocent until proven guilty. With the public protector, you are guilty until you can prove your innocence.”

Cele says he asked Madonsela’s staff for any documentation to support the claim that he was guilty.

“It was like a foregone conclusion. I wasn’t asked a single question – just told that I could make any representation to the preliminary finding… I asked if there was anyone who could support this narrative, and they said: ‘No.’ In fact, they said some people had contradicted it.

“It’s a jumble. I don’t want to get into her mind, but I don’t know how she can find it possible to hang me. I look forward to the final report and any evidence that substantiates the claim that I was guilty of maladministration.”

Cele wouldn’t be drawn on whether he authorised any expenditure on Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla.

But he said a security analysis was done on the presidential home in May 2009, three months before he took office.

This is Cele’s second run-in with Madonsela. After her report into the Shabangu leases, Zuma established an inquiry under Judge Jake Moloi to establish if Cele acted corruptly, dishonestly or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to the leases.

Moloi found against Cele and said he was unfit for office. The former national police commissioner is contesting this finding in court.

This week he said was hoping for a court date next month to clear his name.

Madonsela’s spokeswoman, Kgalalelo Msibi said: “We cannot dispute or confirm anything, as we do not comment on ongoing investigations.”

Cele, perceived to be at odds with Zuma since he was sacked, has been on the comeback trail since the ANC’s national elective conference in Mangaung in December 2012.

Last month it emerged that he ranks among the top 10 on the ANC’s various election lists for Parliament, and is top of the KwaZulu-Natal list.

Sunday Independent