Police minister Bheki Cele felt vindicated on Tuesday by an order of the North Gauteng High Court setting aside former president Jacob Zuma’s decision to fire him in 2012 when he was national police commissioner.
The ruling brings to an end a seven-year effort by Cele to clear his name after his dismissal in relation to procurement of accommodation for the South African Police Service.
In a statement, Cele said the court order declared as invalid and to be of no force and effect the former president’s decision to discharge him as the national commissioner of police.
Cele said a board of inquiry was appointed by Zuma in 2011 to establish his fitness to hold office. This was in relation to the procurement of office premises for the police in Pretoria and Durban – resulting from the findings and recommendations of former public protector Thuli Madonsela in two reports released in 2011.
Cele was removed as commissioner in 2012 and lodged two actions under review.
The first was administrative action against the board of inquiry.
The second was against the executive action by Zuma to discharge him, ostensibly relying on the board’s findings and recommendations that Cele was unfit to hold office as the country’s top cop.
Although there was no hearing of Cele’s application, a two-page draft order produced on Tuesday declared that the report, findings and recommendations made by the board of inquiry have been reviewed and set aside.
The order also said that without reinstating Cele into his position as commissioner, the decision by the president to discharge Cele, contained in a letter dated June 5 2012, was declared invalid and of no force and effect.
Cele’s spokesperson, Reneilwe Serero, said on Tuesday that Cele had always maintained that the board of inquiry’s findings – that he was “dishonest” and acted “in conflict of interest” and “in breach of section 38 of the Public Finance Management Act of 1999” – were irrational, biased, lacked credence and defied logic.
“The fight against crime continues, and I remain even more committed to work with the police to combat, prevent and investigate crime in our country – thus creating a safe and secure South Africa, where all the inhabitants are and feel safe,” said Cele.