Cele still the nation's top cop, says Maharaj
General Bheki Cele is legally South Africa's national police commissioner.
This was said yesterday by The Presidency in the wake of media reports suggesting that the suspended police chief was on the verge of losing his job.
The Mail & Guardian last week reported that it was believed that Cele was to be replaced by Department of Labour director-general Nkosinathi Nhleko.
In 2009, Nhleko was rumoured to have been considered to replace disgraced police chief Jackie Selebi.
Copies of a report released by the board of a inquiry into Cele's fitness to hold office were leaked to the media last week.
Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj slammed those trying to start a public debate on what, if any, action would be taken against Cele.
The report and the board, headed by Judge Jakes Moloi, have been severely criticised by Cele's spokesman, Vuyo Mkhize, as "fatally flawed".
Maharaj said the Presidency would not allow a public debate on the report.
"We will simply not allow this."
Maharaj confirmed yesterday that the report had been handed to President Jacob Zuma and that he was "processing" the information.
"He will give his response in due course," Maharaj said.
Asked for comment on allegations that Cele was to be fired, Maharaj said he could neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of the leaked report.
"When the public protector submitted her report, the president took action. He ensured that what needed to be done was done correctly in terms of the law.
"As with this process, the president is ensuring that, if and when action is taken, it is done within the law. The president understands the seriousness of the matter and the impact prolonging a decision has, especially on the police and our capabilities," he said.
Maharaj said there would be no short cuts. .
He dismissed allegations that Zuma was protecting people.
"There are no preferred candidates on the table. General Cele, in law, is the national police commissioner. There is no vacancy to be filled," he said.
Cele spokesman Mkhize said Cele would know this week what steps to take in response to the "flawed findings".
"We reject the report, its conclusions and recommendations, which are based on manufactured evidence. We will file an application for a review of the report.
"The general is disgusted by the determination to condemn him and drive him from his job despite the absolute lack of justification for this condemnation."
Institute for Security Studies policing expert Johan Burger called for Cele to be replaced by a police chief with integrity.
"[But] this, at the moment, is difficult if not impossible. The police are in crisis. What we need is someone who has a clean record in terms of criminality, a leader with a good policing background who is prepared to stand up against outside interfering. What we do not need is the same damaging mistake made in the political appointments of Jackie Selebi and Bheki Cele."