August 15 2010 at 01:00PM Get IOL on your
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Next » 1 2 The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has uncovered massive corruption within the SA Police Service's procurement units, leading police boss Bheki Cele to take over signing powers from his deputies as questionable contracts emerged.
Independent Newspapers has learnt that Cele discovered a number of multi-million-rand contracts were signed on the eve of his appointment in July last year.
The contracts, ranging from leased accommodation and police uniforms to the fleet of vehicles, were extended for a further four to five years, even though some were only due to expire this year or next.
But the centralising of power put Cele on a collision course with his deputies, who felt that he was overstepping the line.
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The SIU prepared a preliminary report for Cele which pointed to serious cases of conflict of interest, possible collusion between senior officials and shady procurement processes - thus flouting Treasury guidelines.
The cases go back to the early 2000s - during the time of disgraced former national commissioner Jackie Selebi. Selebi has been sentenced to 15 years for corruption, pending his appeal.
Cele flashed this report to journalists last week, when he answered questions related to the controversial R500-million, 10-year lease for the new police headquarters after reports that he influenced the deal.
Last week President Jacob Zuma announced that the SIU would probe possible corruption within the SAPS, the SA Social Security Agency, the departments of Public Works, Arts and Culture and of Human Settlements.
Other affected departments are the Gauteng and Eastern Cape departments of Health and of Education respectively.
The Presidency said the SIU investigation into the police would "focus primarily on concerns within the procurement division of the SAPS" which includes the "procurement and contracting conducted on behalf of the (police) by Public Works or the State Information Technology Agency and payments made in relation thereto".
Some of the cases involve the building of police stations. It was found that 32 had been built without a tendering process.
A new police station costs a few million rands.
But instead of being put out to tender, officials would solicit three quotations from possible contractors - a practice usually reserved for acquiring small equipment and stationery.
In other cases building materials meant for new police stations were used by corrupt officials to renovate their own homes.
Independent Newspapers understands this has left a number of police stations incomplete. Official records counted them as complete.
The probe will stretch to the provinces.
The SIU will also look into the police's multi-millions-rand IT contracts.