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Sun Dec 04 22:25:01 SAST 2016

Right time to step aside for the good of our country

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2011-07-18 22:35:37.0
National Police Commissioner General Beki Cele has denied attempts were made to disrupt Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's investigation into the police lease agreement with businessman Roux Shabangu

The Times Editorial: The police commissioner, General Bheki Cele, will respond today to the Public Protector's report on the R1.7-billion police lease deals that have put the police administration in a bad light.

Cele, whose appointment followed that of disgraced police chief Jackie Selebi, must clear the slate of any doubts about his involvement in the scandal.

The behaviour of the police and its commissioners plays a big part in convincing the public that we are safe in their hands. Those who lead our police and any other sector of government must be above reproach.

Sir Paul Stephenson, Britain's top police officer, resigned his post over the force's hiring of a former News of the World editor - and over a spa break he accepted from a firm where the same man was a consultant.

The now defunct News of the World is faced with public fury after it emerged that its journalists hacked into people's phones.

Stephenson's resignation, while it might seem to be far away from events here, is significant. On realising that his office was now part of the News of the World scandal, Stephenson did the honourable thing and quit.

Last week, the Public Protector said in her report that Cele's failure to enforce the correct tender procedures for the SAPS building in Durban amounted to maladministration.

Thuli Madonsela also slammed the public works minister.

But it would take "outright murder" for one of them to resign or be fired.

A country that tolerates corruption and turns a blind eye when one of its senior members is found wanting is doomed.

Why is it that, in countries where there is progress in democracy and governance, officials step aside even before there are findings against them?

Cele and others found wanting in the past can do a lot of good for our confidence and that of the country by stepping aside until allegations against them have been cleared.

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