Probe Bheki Cele bribe claims thoroughly

Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Image: Esa Alexander

Bribery allegations against police minister Bheki Cele are serious and have to be investigated further.

Yesterday, Crime Intelligence officer Dhanajaya Naidoo told the state capture inquiry that he believes Cele was paid by corruption-accused intelligence officer Solomon Lazarus.

Naidoo said the head of Crime Intelligence had just informed Lazarus that he would be moved out of the secret service account division and that he had resisted the move. Instead, he made arrangements to meet Cele, who was police commissioner at the time.

He said the meeting took place at businessman Panganathan "Timmy" Marimuthu's home in Durban in 2009, and was attended by himself, Marimuthu, Lazarus and they were later joined by Cele.

Naidoo said he believed money had exchanged hands between Cele and Lazarus that day. He said just before Cele arrived, Lazarus told him it was not easy to set up a meeting with the then police commissioner.

"He made a call to another Crime Intelligence member to organise cash, which I assumed was to be paid over to Cele when he arrived at the meeting," Naidoo said.

"Lazarus was not aware I had cash with me, about R40,000, which I had taken from our Crime Intelligence office. I can't remember what the advance was for. I informed him I had the cash and I handed him the money."

Naidoo said Lazarus moved to another wing of the house to meet Cele.

"None of that money was returned to me. The assumption again, on my part, was that the money was handed over to Cele."

When President Cyril Ramaphosa rose to power under his popular slogan of a "new dawn" he promised South Africans clean governance and zero tolerance of corruption.

Now is the time for action. The president must tell the nation what he intends to do about the serious claims levelled against Cele. Silence will not work. Ramaphosa must prove to the public that any corruption accusation made against any member of his cabinet will be dealt with swiftly.

The allegations against Cele have to be probed further by relevant authorities.

And if found guilty he must be dismissed from cabinet and face the full might of the law.

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