Bheki Cele says ‘illogical’ for him ‘to respond to assumptions’ made at Zondo commission

Bheki Cele says ‘illogical’ for him ‘to respond to assumptions’ made at Zondo commission

Minister of Police General Bheki Cele. Picture: EPA-EFE / NIC BOTHMA

The minister says it must be emphasised that the commission’s chair had called on the witness to give evidence based on facts and not assumptions.

Minister of Police General Bheki Cele has said it would be “illogical” for him “to respond to assumptions” in light of the allegations levelled against him at the commission of inquiry into state capture as he “believes there hasn’t been any evidence implicating him”.

Crime intelligence whistleblower Colonel Dhanajaya Naidoo on Wednesday told the chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that Cele had allegedly allowed the former head of the secret service account, former major general Solomon Lazarus, to make use of money from the slush fund to foot his legal bills at the time when the Hawks were investigating Lazarus.

On Monday, Naidoo told Zondo of rumours that Cele had allegedly been involved in the awarding of tenders to Durban businessman Timmy Marimuthu during the minister’s tenure as MEC for transport in KwaZulu-Natal.

Naidoo further told the commission that in early 2009 or 2010, he attended a meeting at Marimuthu’s house in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban, which was attended by Cele, Lazarus and Marimuthu.

He further said that he was of the assumption that at the meeting, Cele was paid a sum of money.

However, Zondo told the witness that his testimony should contain fewer assumptions and more facts.

On Wednesday, Naidoo also told the commission that a crime intelligence member, who could not be named but was referred to as FM46, had at some stage complained to him that Marimuthu was racking up the bill in terms of expenses for his birthday party which would be paid for allegedly from the secret service account.

“FM46 complained to me that the demands from Mr Marimuthu were increasing, that the bill was escalating,” Naidoo said.

Naidoo’s testimony at the commission was done in-camera to protect his identity as Naidoo is currently in a witness protection programme following his decision to cooperate with the Hawks and speak out on the alleged looting of the secret service account by himself and other senior crime intelligence officials.

Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, on Thursday said the minister would wait for Naidoo to conclude his testimony at the commission before he gave a response, “if need be”.

“However, it must be emphasised that throughout the testimony of this particular witness concerning General Cele, even the chairperson of the state capture commission, Judge Zondo, pointed out gaps in his testimony calling for him to give evidence based on facts and not assumptions. At some point even the witness admitted that he was assuming about his version of events and wasn’t sure,” Themba said.

A tearful Naidoo told the commission that he regretted his role in the abuse of the secret service account and apologised for the decisions he had taken during his time at crime intelligence.

Naidoo said his eight-year period in the witness protection programme had been extremely difficult for him and his family.

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