By Thabang Mbulase

In recent weeks, it does not seem to rain, but pours for the beleaguered Minister of Police, Bheki Cele.
The latest broadside has been fired by the suspended Deputy National Commissioner of Assets and Legal Management Lieutenant-General Francinah Vuma, who has thrown damning allegations Cele’s way.
She has also made serious allegations against the National Commissioner Lieutenant- General Fannie Masemola and other cops.
Vuma said she decided to make these “protected disclosures” as she feared for her life.
She said on 30 June she was summoned to the office of the National Police Commissioner, General Masemola, “who told me he was under pressure from people internally and externally of the SAPS to suspend me from duty.”
Vuma, who has worked for the police for 34 years, said it was evident to her “from the determined haste General Masemola was in to suspend me, that he is driven by improper motives other than the objectives of the SAPS’s Discipline Regulation of 2016”.
She said in the disclosure: “In this regard, I have reasons to believe that General Masemola is working with people in and outside the SAPS to obstruct certain investigations against his colleagues, his seniors and acquaintances.”
Colonel Athlenda Mathe, spokesperson for the National Commissioner’s office, told The Telegram: “The correspondence referred to, was not addressed to the media and as such the SAPS is not at liberty to discuss the contents thereof.”
Vuma said there was an occasion when a colleague, named Lt-General Mgwenya, persistently asked her to appoint some specific companies for PPE tenders.
“What was strange about this was her continuous punctuation that she had been given these companies by the minister of police, ostensibly to ensure that I should make it easy for the purchasing orders to be issued in favour of these companies without following due processes,” Vuma claimed.
When Vuma refused to follow these instructions, she said she was called with another colleague to a meeting with Cele.
“We were berated by the minister for not wanting to buy from companies that we were given by Mgwenya. This happened in the presence of other colleagues.

“I stood my ground and informed the minister that we will never be coerced by anyone not to follow due process.
“I reported this to the National Commissioner and requested that it be under protected disclosure and that he should look into it. That was done.”
She said another incident that put her into conflict with her superiors was when she investigated and delivered a report about one of her colleagues, Lt. Gen. Jacobs.
Vuma said: “In 2016 I investigated Lieutenant General Jacobs for committing irregularities. Soon after that report, I was summoned to the office of the minister and was berated for having produced reports that implicated Jacobs. I stood my ground and informed the minister that the conclusions of the reports were derived from evidence gathered.
“Another matter was when I removed Major General Nkosi, because she was appointed irregularly. I was heavily berated by Cele who wanted me to retain Major General Nkosi. I refused and removed her.”
Vuma said in 2021, she started receiving “intimidating messages from Collins Arendse, in retaliation against the investigation” she conducted on Lt-General Jacobs.
She said around the same time, she also started receiving telephone threats from different telephone numbers around the same time and unknown cars were observed lingering around her house.
“I was also informed by Brigadier Mathebula that Cele held a meeting with Lt. General Mgwenya and others, where they hatched plans to falsely implicate me in non-existent PPE corruption.
“During March 2021, Lt. General Jacobs and Cele purchased interception equipment to the tune of R120 Million without the prerequisite exemption certificates from the Department of Justice and State Security. The equipment purchased remains unused. I have instituted fruitless and wasteful investigations against all involved. This has seen me getting more threats and calls about this matter. I informed the former National Commissioner as well and steps were being taken to ensure that I was safe.”
She believes all the allegations she has made are the cause for her to be suspended.
“This, I believe, is the reason there may be an attempt to suspend or transfer me as I am a stumbling block who seeks to ensure fair and lawful governance,” Vuma said.
Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said “the ministry is aware of the protected disclosure and studying its contents.”
“There is no comment on the document at this stage,” Themba said.
She further implicates Cele in a 2010 World Cup procurement scandal (R47 million was spent to securing accommodation, among other things, for police officers who were deployed during the World Cup), coercion during her investigation into a multimillion-rand SAPS PPE deal and interference in retaining a general who was not suitably qualified.
She also claimed the minister had spent R5.5 million of police money on travelling to Dubai and paying for his court cases.
Vuma said she feared her life was in danger, as a result of these and other high-profile investigations into senior SAPS figures.
“I am both scared for my life and livelihood as both are being threatened … The (State Security Agency) SSA, who at a particular point, were of the view that my life is in danger.
“It’s evident from the determined haste of General (Fannie) Masemola to suspend me. He is driven by improper motives. I believe Masemola is working with people inside and outside the SAPS to obstruct certain investigations against his colleagues,” Vuma alleges.
Vuma has used the disclosure to clear herself from accusations of an attempt to launder more than R45 million to be used at ANC conference for vote-buying. The incident has been widely referred to as the “Nasrec Grabber” scandal in the media.
She has placed the blame on Cele’s door as well.
“Lieutenant-General Peter Jacobs and minister Cele purchased interception equipment to the value of R120m. As a result, the interception equipment they purchased remains unutilised and wasted. I have instituted fruitless and wasteful expenditure investigations against all involved,” she said.
Masemola was accused by Vuma of instituting an unjustified suspension against her on Cele’s behalf. She said Masemola was driving a corrupt agenda involving a number of “unlawful instructions” she was refusing to execute due to professional ethics and conscience.
“As you would know, the Act declares that employees making protected disclosures like myself should not be subjected to the occupational detriment by the employer, or partly on account of having a protected disclosure,” she said.

Not the first time
Vuma said this was not the first protected disclosures letter she was making.
“I have made a couple of disclosures to the former national commissioner and other members of the investigative arms of the government relating to various matters.

Cele has failed
Meanwhile, the minister faced a barrage from opposition parties. First up was the DA after they received “an eye-opening” response from a Parliamentary question. In the response, Cele admits that South Africa has ‘lost’ almost 1,300 detectives since he became the minister – a shocking drop which is crippling our crime-fighting forces.
DA’s Shadow Minister of Police Andrew Whitfield said he was outraged by this revelation “while the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, is telling concerned citizens and community organisations to “shut up”, policing in the country is collapsing”.
“For years, the SAPS has been understaffed, under-resourced and under-trained,” Whitfield fumed.
He said this was “despite a damning report by the expert panel on the July 2021 unrest putting the blame on the weaknesses in the cluster, especially Cele’s department, for failing to prevent — and quickly react to — the devastating unrest”.
Freedom Front Plus leader, Pieter Groenewald, said Cele must respond to these allegations as soon as possible.
Said Groenewald: “The allegations by Lt-Gen Francinah Vuma that the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, spent R5,5 million of police money, without authorisation, to pay for his court cases are serious and must be thoroughly investigated.
“According to the allegations by Lt-Gen Vuma, it seems Minister Cele has once again interfered with the awarding of contracts to certain service providers. It is nothing but corruption and state capture. I will request Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police to launch a thorough investigation into the matter. I will also ask President Cyril Ramaphosa in writing to appoint a judicial commission to investigate allegations of corruption.”
Groenewald said it was “clear that the faction fights in the police’s top management did not come to an end when the former National Police Commissioner, Gen Khehla Sitole, was removed from the position”.
He said seemingly, Minister Cele appointed Lt-Gen Masemola “to be his lapdog and they are actively furthering their own agenda”.
Then appeared the EFF, saying the time was ripe to sack Cele for the mess within the police and “dysfunctionality in the security cluster”.
But the minister said: “Our security cluster is functional. This is why our prisons are full as we speak. Minister Lamola can attest to this. Those incarcerated criminals did not walk there on their own free will,” said Cele.

Not new to controversy
In 2012, former president Jacob Zuma fired Cele as National Police Commissioner because of his “dishonest” role in the awarding of a R1.7 billion contract for police accommodation. Cele tried to fight for his job in court but Zuma submitted an affidavit to the High Court in Pretoria saying anything short of dismissing Cele would have been inappropriate.
The previous year, 2011, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Cele’s involvement in deals to acquire police office space was “improper, unlawful and amounted to maladministration”.
She said while Cele had not signed the final lease, he had initiated negotiations with Roux Shabangu and had seemed determined to secure the leases despite warnings against them.
Meanwhile, reports that Arendse denied the allegations and said Vuma was using her letter as a smokescreen to cover her tracks.
“Why didn’t she mention that she was found guilty of the grabbers’ scandal? Also, how does one respond with a protected disclosure letter after you get a letter of intent to suspend? That protective disclosure is supposed to be handed in before this, because she had knowledge of certain things.”
Arendse said he would be taking legal steps against Vuma.
“We need to be able to separate fact from fiction. It’s bizarre that she mentions nothing about the finding in the grabber ruling, but you go ahead resurrecting the same stuff again. She is bringing things into the public domain that have nothing to do with her suspension, it’s just a smokescreen.”
Vearey told Weekend Argus he did not know Vuma from “a bar of soap”.
“The only time I had spoken to her was when I approached her for a statement for a related matter. She refused to either testify or submit a statement. That was the only time I engaged with her. Other than that, the only other times I’ve seen her was when she was on TV.”

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