DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone says Bheki Cele must pay back state funds if his visit to Nkandla was not in his capacity as police minister.

Last week Cele visited former president Jacob Zuma at his homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

The three-hour meeting comes at a time when Zuma faces the possibility of jail time over his defiance of a Constitutional Court order to appear before the state capture inquiry.

Cele said his visit to Nkandla was to hear Zuma’s “concerns”. He said they spoke about “several things, including things that are prevailing”.

Speaking during the official handover of 55 high-performance vehicles to police at the weekend, Cele said he would account to parliament for the visit if he is called to do so.

Mazzone said it was highly irregular and unprecedented for a police minister to have “tea parties” with “someone who many believe should be locked up in a police holding cell for being in contempt of court”.

“Cele supposedly met with Zuma in his capacity as an ANC NEC member. It is no coincidence the minister was sent by the ANC to meet with Zuma, given the fact that the matter of the former president’s contempt of the Constitutional Court relates very closely to Cele’s portfolio as police minister.

“The conflict of interest is undeniable and again demonstrates the ANC’s disregard for the separation of party and state,” Mazzone said.

She said the DA will lay an ethics complaint against Cele as the opposition party believes his meeting with Zuma was in breach of section four of parliament’s code of conduct for members.

“If Cele did not meet with Zuma in his capacity as police minister, why did he arrive at Nkandla with a police convoy paid for by the taxpayer?” asked Mazzone.

“If public funds were involved in this meeting, the money must be reimbursed and the details of the meeting should be made public. The continued abuse of public money for the ANC’s internal squabbles must come to an end.”