Bheki Cele. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Bheki Cele. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The high court in Pretoria on Tuesday set aside the decision by former president Jacob Zuma to fire Bheki Cele as national police commissioner on allegations of corruption. 

Zuma fired Cele in June 2012 after a board of inquiry found that he was not fit to hold office. The inquiry was mandated by the former president to establish whether Cele had acted corruptly, dishonestly, or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two police lease deals he signed. 

Cele approached the court to challenge the board’s findings and Zuma’s decision to axe him. 

In 2014, Cele was appointed deputy agriculture minister and in 2018 after the resignation of Zuma as state president, Cyril Ramaphosa appointed him as police minister. 

Cele’s office on Tuesday said the court found in his favour and set aside the decision with costs.  

The ministry of police said the court declared Cele’s removal “invalid, and of no force and effect”. 

Ministry spokeswoman Reneilwe Serero said after his appointment as police minister, Cele amended his court papers indicating that if he won the matter he would not want to return to the position of national commissioner. For Cele, it was about clearing his name, and he felt vindicated by the court judgment, she said.

Cele had over the years consistently maintained that the board’s findings, conclusions and recommendations, holding that he was dishonest, in conflict of interest and in breach of the Public Finance Management Act were “irrational, biased, lacked credence and defied logic”, she said. 

“The fight against crime continues, and I remain even more committed to work with the police to combat, prevent and investigate crime in our country, thus creating a safe and secure SA where all the inhabitants are and feel safe,” Cele said. 

With Claudi Mailovich