Zondo grills whistleblower on his 'assumption' that Bheki Cele was given R40k from secret service account
30 September 2019
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Monday grilled Crime Intelligence whistleblower Colonel Dhanajaya Naidoo over evidence he gave the commission of inquiry into state capture which was based on an assumption, and not facts.
During his testimony, Naidoo told the commission that he assumed that an amount of R40 000, which came from the secret service's account, was paid to the then national police commissioner General Bheki Cele.
Naidoo told the commission that he assumed Cele was allegedly given the money by former chief financial officer General Solly Lazarus, after hearing him say that it was not easy to "organise a meeting with Cele", at the home of businessman Timmy Marimuthu in Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal.
At the time, Lazarus was facing a possible transfer from his position as the CFO of crime intelligence, which he was resisting, the commission heard.
Naidoo said the meeting took place either in 2009 or 2010 and that, although he was present in the house, he was not in the same room as the two men once the meeting began.
"We (Lazarus and I) were already there – Lazarus was waiting for Cele, we were there around two hours or so. We even had tea.
"Closer to the time of Cele arriving, he [Lazarus] told me it was not easy organising a meeting with Cele. He made a call to (an agent referred to as) FM08 to organise cash to be paid over to Bheki Cele when he arrived to the meeting. Based on what he said, it was not easy to organise – I assumed it was about cash," Naidoo explained.
'There is a gap there'
"Lazarus was not aware I had R40 000 with me, that I had taken from the head office – I cannot recall what the advance was for. I told him I had the cash and handed him the money," Naidoo added.
Zondo, however, noticed a problem in the version of events, as Naidoo had failed to substantiate why he believed the call Lazarus had made to a crime intelligence official was about cash.
"There is a gap there. He did not tell you he was making a call to get cash from FM08. He said organising a meeting was not easy, then he made a call. You did not hear their conversation and you assumed that the call was about cash. You can't tell me why you made that assumption. How does it come about that you give him cash when there is no decision about cash?" Zondo asked.
"Yes, there is a gap, but this is what I recall," Naidoo responded.
Zondo, however, was not satisfied with this answer and probed further.
"I would have thought that you would remember how the issue of cash came about," Zondo said.
'This is your assumption?'
Naidoo replied: "At this stage, I cannot recall any other further details than what is in the statement, chair. From what Lazarus said, 'it was not easy to organise a meeting' and me handing the cash, it was my belief that the money was intended to pay Bheki Cele."
"This is your assumption?" Zondo asked.
"He [Lazarus] did not say that it was for Cele. It is an assumption," Naidoo admitted.
Zondo further cautioned him on giving evidence based on assumptions, imploring him to "try and remember to the best of your ability".
Naidoo further told the commission that, when the meeting took place between Lazarus and Cele, he was in one wing of Marimuthu's house, while the meeting took place in another.
"Chair, none of that money was returned to me and an assumption again that the money was handed over to Bheki Cele," Naidoo added.
The inquiry continues.