DA to submit PAIA request to obtain details of Bheki Cele's Rugby World Cup trip

06 December 2023 - 18:00
By Andisiwe Makinana
The DA says it will submit a PAIA application to get information about a company that paid for police minister Bheki Cele’s trip to the Rugby World Cup in France. File photo.
Image: Frennie Shivambu/Gallo The DA says it will submit a PAIA application to get information about a company that paid for police minister Bheki Cele’s trip to the Rugby World Cup in France. File photo.

The DA says it will submit a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to get information about a company that paid for police minister Bheki Cele’s trip to the Rugby World Cup in France.

In response to a DA parliamentary question, Cele revealed that while his trip was sponsored by a private company, taxpayers paid for his executive assistant to the tune of R446,339.43.

“Yes, the trip was fully sponsored by a private company for the minister of police except for the S&T and travel insurance,” said Cele in response to the DA's Greg Krumbock.

The response shows the ministry spent R33,256 on Cele.

It also shows the executive assistant had their flights, accommodation and ground transport covered by the ministry of police, running up a tab of nearly R500,000.

Cele said the executive assistant accompanied him as an official assistant. His or her meals and access to the stadium were sponsored by the private company.

DA MP Okkie Terblanche said the DA will submit a PAIA request to Cele to ascertain the name of the private entity, whether Cele’s assistant flew in business or first class, and if he or she stayed in five-star hotels on the taxpayer’s dime.

Terblanche also wants the minister to share details with regards to the purpose of the assistant travelling to the World Cup, whether any additional expenses were paid for by the taxpayer for VIP protection, and whether the private company has any dealings with the SAPS or the government.

Terblanche said the DA wants to ensure the gifts were not provided by a company involved in the supply chain of police equipment and/or other tenders, as such a gift would fall foul of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act and its accompanying code of conduct.

Any staff member being covered by the taxpayer for a personal trip is in clear violation of the act and code of conduct
DA MP Okkie Terblanche

“At the same time, it is unfathomable that the minister would allow almost half-a-million rand to be spent on an assistant where SAPS already has budgetary restrictions, shortages of detectives and dilapidated police stations,” he said.

“However, notwithstanding the above, it is clear this trip was not part of ministerial duties, as it was a privately funded trip and as such, any staff member being covered by the taxpayer for a personal trip is in clear violation of the act and code of conduct.”

The code states a member must at all times act in the interests of good governance and may not act in a manner that exposes them to risks of conflict of interests, nor use their position to improperly benefit any other person.

In this regard, the DA will submit an ethics complaint in the new year once parliament resumes to hold Cele to account, said Terblanche. 

In terms of the code, MPs are required to disclose their financial interests annually including foreign travel other than personal visits paid by the member, business visits unrelated to the member’s role as a public representative and official and formal visits paid for by an organ of state or the member’s party.

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