Former commissioner admits to corruption
Former deputy national police commissioner Lieutenant General Hamilton Hlela has pleaded guilty to corruption and receiving kickbacks – two Durban holidays for him and his wife, and school and university fees for his two sons.
Hlela was the star witness for the team that led the evidence in the inquiry into former national police commissioner Bheki Cele’s fitness to hold office after the R1.7 billion Middestad lease scandal.
Hlela, who pleaded guilty before the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria this week, admitted to personally benefiting to the tune of R76 203 from Midway Two Holdings – a company that was awarded tenders to the value of R4 billion between 2007 and 2008 by the SA Police Service’s bid adjudication committee, which Hlela chaired.
The court has ruled that Hlela should repay the state R76 203 and has issued an order to confiscate his Mercedes-Benz ML500 should he fail to pay within 30 days.
According to the charge sheet, Hlela, in his capacity as bid adjudication committee chair, awarded tenders to three companies: Midway Two Contractors, Democratic Industrial Services and Integcomm, a group of companies belonging to Midway Two Holdings.
Hlela admitted that Midway Two Holdings:
Paid R6 185 to Glen High School in Pretoria for his son’s school fees;
Paid R18 210 to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth for another son’s fees;
Paid R14 295.65 to Worldwide Incentive and Travel Solutions for airfares and accommodation for a holiday between August 22 and 24 2008 for him and his wife in Durban; and
Paid R14 328.54 to Worldwide Incentive and Travel Solutions for airfares and accommodation for another holiday for him and his wife in Durban from June 19 to 21 in 2009.
One of the tenders Hlela was found by the court to have rigged includes a R1 billion, five-year contract awarded to Integcomm for the supply for a new twoway radio tetra communication network for the Eastern Cape.
The other four tenders were for the supply of craftsmen for the police’s mechanical service, cleaning services, labour for the police’s building service and the hiring of qualified radio artisans, technicians and electronic systems engineers. The contracts ranged for a period of between two and five years.
On all the four counts, Hlela pleaded guilty to corruption and “acknowledged that as a result of his criminal activity, namely corruption, he benefited to the amount of R76 203” after awarding the tenders to companies belonging to Midway, said the court.
Midway Two Holdings CEO Danny Naicker, who bought the company in 2012, said: “There you have it, an admission of guilt. But I can’t shed light on any of that because it took place before I bought the company. What I can say is that all this negative press continues to affect my business today, even though I was not there when these things took place.”
During Cele’s inquiry into his fitness to hold office in the R1.7 billion lease saga, only Hlela claimed that Cele identified the Middestad building and that Cele instructed him to procure a lease for it, a claim the former national police commissioner denied.
Both Hlela and Cele also admitted during the inquiry that they did not see eye to eye, with the latter telling the inquiry that he did not trust Hlela.
Cele could not, however, explain why he trusted Hlela to oversee the signing of leases for the police service.
Hlela told the inquiry that his decision in 2012 to take early retirement at the age of 55 was motivated by the “severe pressure” exerted on him by Cele to sign the Middestad lease.