South Africa


Appeal court confirms Khehla Sitole’s ‘breach of duty’ – his job as head of SAPS now untenable

Appeal court confirms Khehla Sitole’s ‘breach of duty’ – his job as head of SAPS now untenable
National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole. (Photo: Gallo Images / City Press / Leon Sadiki)

A week before South Africa was engulfed in flames, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein dismissed SAPS National Commissioner Khehla Sitole’s appeal against a high court judgment that he and two other members of top police management had breached their duties.

It was a judgment not made public on 30 June when it was handed down, resulting in the SAPS, at the height of the violence that tore across KZN and Gauteng, being led by a man who has been found to be politically deeply compromised.

The lack of preparedness of the country’s security cluster after the arrest of Jacob Zuma has left more than 300 dead and an economy deeply damaged by days of organised looting, murder and mayhem.

A scathing judgment, handed down on 13 January 2021 by Judge Norman Davis in the Gauteng High Court, found that Sitole and his two deputies, Francinah Vuma and Lebeoana Tsumane, had placed the interests of the governing party, the ANC, ahead of those of the country.

The national commissioner will have a hard time convincing anyone now that he is fit to lead SAPS for the benefit of all South Africans. Sitole was appointed by Zuma in 2017, a month before the Nasrec conference.

For three years Sitole, Vuma and Tsumane refused to hand over documentation relating to grabber procurement to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

“Rather than comply with their statutory duties as police officers willing to contribute to the investigation of crimes, they sought legal assistance and on this basis thwarted Ipid’s investigation,” Davis later said, dismissing a 3 February attempt by the trio to appeal against the original judgment. 

On 30 June 2021 the Supreme Court of Appeal, before Justices Malcolm Wallis and Nolwazi Mabindla-Boqwana, finally put the matter to rest.

“The application for leave to appeal is dismissed with costs on the grounds that there is no reasonable prospect of success in an appeal and there is no other compelling reason why an appeal should be heard.”

The ruling will most certainly affect the continued presence of Sitole, Vuma, who is Deputy National Commissioner of Support Services and Tsumane, Deputy National Commissioner, Crime Detection (Detectives, Crime Intelligence and Forensic Services) at the helm of SAPS.

The argument by all three top cops to the court that there had been an unspecified threat to national security had nothing to do, said Davis, with the manner in which the grabber was procured irregularly at a highly inflated price.

The documents Ipid sought for more than three years related to the attempted unlawful procurement by Crime Intelligence (CI) in December 2017, a few days before the ANC’s elective conference, of the grabber from I-View, a company that was in business rescue at the time. CI procured other materials from I-View in two other matters amounting to a collective estimated R100-million.

The then acting head of CI, General Bhoyi Ngcobo, who had recently been appointed to the position by then-president Jacob Zuma, has also been implicated with Sitole, Vuma, Tsumane and Bo Mbindwane, “special adviser” to then minister of police Fikile Mbalula, in pushing for the procurement.

The top cops had insisted that the information was classified and that none of them had “any legal authority to furnish information that was classified until such time that the Head of the office of the Department that classified the said information has declassified it”.

Judge Davis ruled this argument was “untenable and ignores the duties imposed by law” on those implicated.

Davis said Ipid had resorted to the magistrates’ court “in frustration”  and as a result of the fact that Sitole, Vuma and Tsumane “were already failing their duties”.

“Absolutely no attempt”, said Davis, had been demonstrated by any of the applicants to comply with the Ipid Act, adding that the “classification issue was clearly used as a shield or a smokescreen to hide behind from any enquiry”.

Writing to Sitole on 12 February 2021, Minister of Police Bheki Cele noted that in light of the Pretoria High Court’s 13 January judgment, communication had been received “from the Presidency”.

“In respect of the recent High Court judgment in the matter between Vuma and others v Ipid, I have been requested by the Honourable President to respond to certain issues in respect of the judgment,” wrote Cele.

Cele said he had not, “to date” been briefed by the SAPS management on the outcome and the implications of the judgment for the SAPS.

Due to the “urgency and seriousness” of the matter, Cele told Sitole, “I herewith direct that you provide me with a full report on all I-View matters and the implications to the SAPS, including your own involvement and all other senior officers who were cited in the High Court judgment.”

Cele also called for an inquiry into Sitole’s fitness to hold office. This resulted in Sitole writing Ramaphosa pleading with him to hold off and that we would like to “explain” his “side of the story”.

With this decision by the SCA, Sitole and his deputies have run out of road. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Garth Kruger says:

    when last did SA have a police commissioner who had any competence? The country pays while these jokers are in charge.

  • Carien Joubert says:

    These people Sithole and gang feel nothing for SA their position is to ensure chaos ..thats all

  • Andrew Blaine says:

    Although the servant (Sitole) committed the crime, the blame should be shared with his master, Teflon Man

    • Alley Cat says:

      Absolutely. But we all know THAT won’t happen. I think he has photo’s of ALL the skeletons of all his ANC colleagues. Why else is he still a cabinte minister?
      Only other explanation is that he is there to set the example of incompetence that the other cadres can aspire to.

      • Charles Parr says:

        Cele obviously holds considerable power in the ANC, whether as the keeper of secrets or for some other reason. Ramaphosa won’t fire him but might shuffle him around because, when he’s out of a high paying government job, he rocks the ANC boat so much that not even the party of skelms can handle it.

  • Hildegard Meyer says:

    Our President will take month / years to take action if any

  • Colin Attwell says:

    The time is long overdue for the ANC to get its house in order. If it doesn’t, the electorate will do it for them…. Let’s hope.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    The question is how could the looting not happen when SAPS is a criminal force from top to bottom? Why do we have SAPS that are not useful for any purpose? Subcontracted out it would cost less and be more efficient.

  • Gerhard Pretorius says:

    Dismissal with immediate effect. I feel for the few honest police officers.

  • Grenville Smith says:

    I admire DM for reporting that Sitole’s position is untenable following this Supreme Court ruling, but why assume that this will result in either his resignation or termination of his employment? Busisiwe Mkhwebane was told that she was in a similar position by the ConCourt but she still draws the salary and holds office as Public Protector.

    Resignation would be the action of someone with a sense of honour and a degree of self-awareness not a sense of self-entitlement which these scoundrels display in abundance.

    Termination of employment would be the action of a President determined to show leadership and intolerance of corruption and personal enrichment by larceny of State coffers.

    Neither of these virtues are apparent in South Africa’s politicians or the apparatchniks they have appointed to senior office.

    Nonetheless, DM is to be admired for pointing out what should happen in a society run by competent and honourable people.

    A cliche, I know, but “It’s the hope that kills you”.

  • Jonathan Fouche says:

    We so desperately need some competent people leading SAPS. I witness first hand the incompetence / obstructiveness / dereliction / corruption (delete anything not applicable) throughout the firearm licensing function – most especially at the Central Firearms Registry (CFR).

    We need changes in personnel and policing LONG before we should contemplate changing legislation.

  • Chris 123 says:

    So now what’s stopping Ramaphosa for gods sake man do SOMETHING 🙏
    Make General Booysens head of Police reinstate Peter Jacobs as crime intelligence boss.

    • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

      That will not fall in line with AA and BEE policy of the anc. They deploy cadres, no matter how useless or incompetent, as long as they are corrupt and adhere to the “anc above all” policy. The last (almost) competent commissioner was George Fivaz?

  • J LOMBARD says:

    The lameness of the ANC. Cele asked Sithole for a report. He said it was serious and urgent. Five months and a crippling (and unchecked) Zulu uprising later, Cele was still waiting …

  • Lesley Young says:

    “…judgement not made public…” Was this deliberately withheld or was it just ignored? Was the Media told not to report on it? Threatened? Why did the ANC disciplinary committees not react? Hello, is anybody there???

  • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

    “The lack of preparedness of the country’s security cluster after the arrest of Jacob Zuma has left more than 300 dead and an economy deeply damaged by days of organised looting, murder and mayhem.” And which of the anc ‘rulers’ cares about this? Read the next sentence in Marianne’s piece.

  • Dellarose Bassa says:

    Thats’s it.
    If Pres Ramaphosa does not show bold, decisive action in dismissing, with immediate effect, all these rogues, including Fikile “Beyonce” Mbalula, we are done for.
    All those sitting in cushy positions who are part of this “gangster cabal” must be expelled from public office & never be in any such position or employed anywhere else in the public service ever again – that goes for all the deadwood in the Governing Party in Parliament with their ample backsides in butter doing nothing but getting dressed up in those same western duds they much malign, barely managing to stay awake in Parliament & only just surfacing to howl down any sensible opposition contribution.
    Cele, too should be long gone, as should be the so-called Minister of “Defence”, that other Min constantly fiddling with her hair, Lindiwe Sisulu, and a good few others, including those occupying Portfolio Chairmanships. Losers all.
    In a beautiful country, with so much talent and such world renowned experts in all fields & of all races, how on earth can the President, who should know better, given his qualifications, experience & business & political savvy, countenance such a moribund motley crew of mediocre, mentally & physical unfit charlatans as part of Government?
    Cyril had better hurry – or go down in history as the President who twiddled his thumbs while our beautiful country was destroyed. Ditch the race affiliation politics. Choose fitness for purpose.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    I’m too depressed by all of this to comment!

  • Charles Parr says:

    Having people like this in top management in the SAPS is just so disrespectful to the citizens of this country. In other words, Ramaphosa doesn’t care a damn about this country only his precious ANC.

  • Dieter Butow says:

    We are now waiting for more than a week since the riots took place under the watchful eyes of those implicated. The only investigations showing anything are those of the Indians in Phoenix who reacted on the threat that was imminent for their safety – the media now makes them the guilty ones in the absence of anything happening.
    Does anybody believe that changes are on the horizon?
    Please join taxpayersunion in order that ways can be found to dry up the funds that keep this bunch on the gravytrain. The voters and taxpayers in this country are not the same – taxpayers need to ensure that their contribution is used to build our country – not to destroy it.

  • Nick Griffon says:

    He should be fired immediately, criminally charged and convicted quickly.
    Then he should be thrown into the general population of the most hardcore prison in SA.
    And he should loose his pension.

    The state can build toilets for the 100’s if not 1000’s of schools that still have pit toilets with his pension money.

  • Joel Marock says:

    This is the man who summarily dismisses Veary because he was disrespected. So a top cop, a vital fighter of corruption in the SAP has to go and has his life put at risk by the utterly corrupt upper echelons 0f the SAP, Jacobs also had to go. Similar reason.Booysen; Lincoln.
    And now Robert MacBride, investigating corruption in; you guessed it: upper SAP levels. On the basis of what appear to be egregious lies put out by Minister Dlodlo. And the President does nothing. One must ask : “WHY.”

  • Jairo Arrow says:

    Finished & Klar.

  • John Gosling says:

    Only the president can fire and replace Sitole. He won’t. Rumours that he was supposed to reshuffle the cabinet this week. He won’t. I know there is no replacement – that does not excuse or justify our do-nothing president. After all that has happened, he is an embarrassment. Let’s open bets as to when he will take action…ANY action!

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    The role of the audience in a Greek Tragedy is to become part of that theatrical illusion, to partake in the act as if they were part of it.

  • ryanvanheerden says:

    they’ll probably be suspended on full pay for the next couple of years and then get shifted somewhere at taxpayers expense. So typical…. what a sham…..

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