Amid public calls for his sacking, Police Minister Bheki Cele has now allegedly been implicated in the 2010 Fifa World Cup tender saga by one of his top cops.
Deputy police commissioner Francinah Vuma, who was suspended last Friday, has reportedly handed over a 22-page dossier to the authorities that suggests Cele played a role in the accommodation scandal.
The dossier, dated 7 June 2010, bears Cele’s signature, which had given the greenlight for R47 million to be spent in order to secure accommodation, among other things, for South African Police Service (Saps) officers who were deployed during the World Cup.
City Press reported on Sunday that the document states that two of controversial Durban businessman Thoshan Panday’s companies be appointed to provide the accommodation to the police without a competitive tender process.
“It is recommended that approval be granted to accept the quotations from the above-mentioned service providers for the provision of accommodation and meals for the SA Police Service members who will be deployed for the soccer World Cup 2010 in KwaZulu-Natal,” the document reads.
Panday, who was granted bail of R100,000 by the Durban Magistrate’s Court in October 2020, is already facing charges of racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering – along with eight other people – in connection to the R47 million tender.
The businessman’s co-accused include former KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni and former police officers Navin Madhoe and Aswin Narainpershad.
While Cele’s alleged involvement in the scandal was first raised by Panday, Vuma revived the matter after she was subpoenaed by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks.
According to City Press, the deputy commissioner was asked to provide the Hawks with documents that “relate to the procurement of accommodation for the 2010 World Cup, in pursuance of an investigation against Panday, Cele and others”.
However, Vuma stated – in a letter written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya and others – that her “initial attempt to locate the required documents was stonewalled”.
“I am a competent witness in this investigation. The subpoena required me to provide the required documents before 20 June 2022, failing which I would have had to appear in the designated court by 24 June 2022 and explain why I was not cooperating with the investigation,” she said in the letter dated 6 July.
“As a result, I even wrote to the national head of the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations and disclosed to him the investigation underway with which I was cooperating.
“[I asked him to help me] locate the evidence that was required. In the end, I managed to gather useful evidence and submitted it to the independent directorate, [with] all relevant copies,” the letter further reads.
Cele’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba confirmed to the publication that the minister had received the dossier Vuma handed over and was studying it.
Meanwhile, national police spokesperson Athlenda Mathe said: “Kindly note that the correspondence referred to was not addressed to the media. As such, the South African Police Service is not at liberty to discuss its contents with third parties.”
In addition, Vuma also argued in her letter that she had reasons to believe that her suspension was driven by “improper motives”.
She was suspended for allegedly failing to give the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) information and documents relating to its investigation into police service provider I-View.
Cele came under fire this week after a Cape Town community police forum descended into a heated exchange between the minister and Action Society director Ian Cameron over concerns about policing in the townships of Gugulethu and Nyanga.
“You are failing your own Constitution, and not fulfilling your mandate to safeguard [these communities]. I don’t see you patrolling the area at night with the people here,” Cameron told Cele.
This provoked the minister to reply: “Don’t talk to me about the safety of my people. I fought for it. I nearly died for it. Don’t provoke me… Don’t tell me about things you have studied and you have heard.”
Action Society has since launched a petition calling for Cele’s resignation with Cameron also laying charges against Cele.