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New police HQ building lease on hold

Aug 17 2010 18:09

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Cape Town - The lease transaction to rent another building for R500m for a police head office in Pretoria has been put on hold, Public Works Minister Geoff Doidge said on Tuesday.

On August 2, the FF Plus asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the public works department and Police Commissioner Bheki Cele's rental contract for buildings owned by Roux Shabangu.

Speaking in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Doidge said when the 2008/09 audit report was released last year, the department held a news conference to brief the media on the work it was doing in reviewing its supply chain management processes - and in particular, the department's entire lease portfolio.

More recently, and concurrent to the department's own work in this regard, the special investigations unit (SIU) was also conducting a broader investigation, which included the department's lease portfolio, he said.

"Further to this, the Office of the Public Protector has served the department of public works with a communiqué requesting specific information regarding this specific case for the purpose of its own separate investigation."

Consequently, the implementation of the lease in question was being "held in abeyance to allow space for the processes of all these investigations to be proceeded with", Doidge said.

Money better spent on more police

In a statement later, FF Plus spokesperson Pieter Groenewald welcomed the move.

"The fact that the minister has put this contract on hold is welcomed."

The FF Plus asked Madonsela to not only investigate the contravention of rules and regulations regarding tenders, but to also to determine whether a second building, which had to serve as another police head office, was really needed.

"A second building is unnecessary and a waste of taxpayers' money. The R500m could rather have been used to appoint more police members and increase visible policing," Groenewald said.

He told Sapa Madonsela had indicated she would conclude her investigation as early as September.

The Sunday Times reported on August 1 that Cele signed the deal to move the police's top brass - including Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa - to Shabangu's 18-storey building almost two months before he bought it.

The newspaper said the deal never went out to tender, in breach of treasury regulations that all contracts over R500 000 must go through a competitive bid process.

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