South Africa

SAPS IN CRISIS

Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole bows out after mutual agreement and ‘in the best interests of the country’

South African Police Service (SAPS) national commissioner Khehla Sitole during the annual safer festive season inspection tour on December 20, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

National Commissioner Khehla John Sitole will vacate his position on 31 March 2022 ‘by mutual agreement’, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office has announced.

The termination of Sitole’s contract, said the president’s acting spokesperson Tyrone Seale, was “in the best interests of the country”.

Sitole vacates the position after a scathing judgment handed down on 13 January 2021 by Judge Norman Davis in the Gauteng High Court. 

It was 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.

This was in relation to the National Commissioner’s three-year attempt to thwart an Ipid investigation into the attempted procurement of a “grabber” at the inflated price of R45-million prior to the ANC’s elective conference at Nasrec in December 2017.

In November 2017, a month after his appointment by President Jacob Zuma, Sitole found himself at a meeting at the Courtyard Hotel in Pretoria where the R45-million grabber deal was discussed. 

Sitole cancelled the deal later when he was tipped off by Ipid investigators but it was this meeting that ultimately sealed his demise after a long career in SAPS.

Sitole has since claimed it was former minister of police, Fikile Mbalula, who had personally called him about a “threat” to the conference and had been behind attempts to secure the surveillance device.

In an attempt to approach the Constitutional Court directly after the Supreme Court of Appeal had turned down his application to appeal, Sitole set out how he was drawn into the procurement deal by Mbalula and others.

Sitole has faced a turbulent time in office with allegations of “rogue” Crime Intelligence officers being complicit in the brazen assassination of Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear in September 2020. 

Kinnear, of the Anti-Gang Unit, was investigating a gun licensing racket linked to the underworld and implicating SAPS officers. Kinnear wrote to SAPS top brass before his murder exposing the rogue unit and setting out how investigations were being thwarted.

The open animosity also between Sitole and Police Minister Bheki Cele has seen a series of acrimonious letters and communications between the two with regard to various matters.

Sitole also faced considerable criticism for his lack of visibility and handling of the July 2021 failed insurrection, in the aftermath of Zuma’s incarceration. The violence devastated KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng, resulting in the deaths of 300 people and a loss of R50-billion to the economy.

Prior to his appointment as national commissioner, Sitole was the provincial commissioner of the Free State from 2011 to 2013, his time overlapping then with Ace Magashule’s term of office as premier between 2009 and 2018.

In 2013 Sitole was appointed deputy national commissioner of policing and in March 2016 he was appointed to the key position of divisional commissioner of protection and security services.

In this position he would have worked closely with Zuma’s former protector, Major General King “Bhoyi” Ngcobo, who was appointed by the president in August 2017,  as acting divisional commissioner of Crime Intelligence.

In November 2017 Sitole was promoted to national commissioner and the next month he found himself at the Pretoria hotel. Ipid investigators have claimed the money was to be laundered by Crime Intelligence in order to “buy” votes at the ANC conference.

In a statement President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “I am grateful to General Sitole for the constructive discussions we have had over the termination of his position as National Commissioner. I wish to convey my appreciation to General Sitole for his service to the nation over many years in the SAPS. I wish him the best in his future endeavours.”

His office said an announcement will be made in due course on filling the position of SAPS national commissioner following Sitole’s departure. DM

 

 

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All Comments 10

  • Just some questions CR, why isn’t he going at the end of Feb and why isn’t the minister right behind him with at least 100 generals behind them?

  • His replacement will be a political appointment. Problem with police is ,it doesn’t allow for open discussion on problem solving of crime.If a Colonel has a better idea than a Brigadier,he can’t override or implement the better plan.Çrime fighters don’t even make up half of the police.Officers manage (or are supposed to)admin staff stay in the office Admin work office hours, logistics work office hours.The police must be shaken up the more policemen and women on the street the better you can fight crime.Detectives nowadays work 8 to 4.Unions have also made it difficult to enforce discipline.Everybody gets a job description,and lots of cops hide behind it”Its not in my job description” is heard a lot.Or “that is not our mandate”.Unless you are in a specialized unit you catch any crime , without being vindictive.For crying out loud ,why did you become a cop!!!I caught criminals for 28 years ,and I went to testify in my holidays.My last case was in 2018,I testified this year to conclude the case. The only thing that made sense to me is catch the criminal put him behind bars by testifying honestly and prepare for every case.That is what the public or citizens want,to feel safe in their town or city.Anyway not much will probably change!!!

      • Pleasure,I still do crime gathering(informers I have built up over years)and my info goes to certain cops only(honest and trustworthy,still some around).I didn’t do anything special,I just let my work ethic do the talking,and once you have the trust of the community it lasts,3 years after retirement and they still phone me daily with info or asking advice on how to tackle problems

        • You’re obviously an old school cop. Try going to a police station today. They can take an accident report and certify copies and that’s it. Try reporting an incident where young kids that have been drinking jet fuel all night go into a neighbourhood in Alex on a Sunday morning and kick people out of their houses because they are Zimbabwean. The cops they say ‘it’s not our job, go to the department of housing’. Flippin hell, the department of housing doesn’t work on the best of days, where will one find them on a Sunday morning. In the same shabeen that the kids were in?

          • Charles it’s even worse ,they ask people to write there own statements,you waitvhours for the van to come, otherwise it only comes the next day.I began 1991 and left December 2018.Ive had a good life in SAPS.There as still good cops left,but they are becoming less and less. I feel sorry for them.Was in lots of contacts,shot at lots of times,only once hit in the right leg ,just below the knee.But I had good officers around me, good partners,and that is what made the difference.Also the police college didn’t play with you, you were well trained,and discipline was drilled in to you.We had a subject called ethics.That is gone now, with a lot of other things.I can’t moan, I know I served my country, my citizens and communities with honesty and diligence.

    • I concur. I was a Lt Col and left the SAPS at the end of 2011 after 34 years’ service. Anyone in middle-management (such as I was) who dared express an opinion contrary to a half-assed instructions from the top, ran the risk of being slapped down and rebuked with, “You are undermining me, Chief”. I took the appropriate step for someone who was no longer welcome in the organization: I packed my bags and left, and am now a criminal defence attorney.

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