Ramaphosa to announce new police commissioner as Sitole marks last day in office

Ramaphosa to announce new police commissioner as Sitole marks last day in office

South Africa is set to find out who will be the new national police commissioner replacing outgoing General Khehla Sitole.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce the new national commissioner in an address to the nation at 4:30pm on Thursday, according to the Presidency.

Sitole marked his last day in office on Thursday after reaching an agreement of mutual termination of contract with Ramaphosa last month.

This came after it was confirmed last October that Sitole was facing suspension, and had been invited to make a case to Ramaphosa against the move at the time.

‘Process already flawed’

With deputy national police commissioner Francinah Vuma expected to replace Sitole, civil rights organisation Action Society had hoped there would be open process in the search for a new commissioner.

“An external panel to vet candidates for the national commissioner replacement has been appointed and according to sources, consists of people from the private sector. Unfortunately, the whole process is too secretive.

“There needs to be more transparency about the panel and the process followed in the appointing of a new national commissioner.

“If General Vuma is at all being considered to replace Sitole, the process is already flawed. Vuma was found guilty on corruption charges with Sitole just last year,” Action Society’s Ian Cameron said in a statement.

Cameron said Action Society was of the view that “an external panel of policing experts should handle the restructuring of the entire police management according to merit and not political affiliation”.

“The same panel must do a skills audit of senior management, starting with deputy national commissioners, provincial commissioners, all their deputies and divisional commissioners within Saps [South African Police Services],” he said.

“If appointment was done due to political affiliation and not due to merit, the necessary remedial steps should be followed,” Cameron added.

‘Constitutional changes’

Last month, a panel of experts who looked into the July 2021 riots made a number of recommendations including the constitutional changes to the appointment of a national police commissioner.

“The appointment procedure of the national police commissioner, as set out in the Constitution, may need to be changed.

“The attempts in legislation to try and delineate the powers of the police minister from those of the commissioner, while commendable, have introduced some confusion over the years,” the panel said in a report.

Charges

Meanwhile, Sitole has been charged for his alleged refusal to cooperate with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) relating to its investigation into murder of Anti-Gang Unit detective Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear.

Ipid Executive Director Jennifer Dikeledi Ntlatseng wrote to Cele, requesting his intervention in the matter after Sitole allegedly avoided attempts by Ipid investigators to interview him in 2021.

While the police commissioner has denied these claims, he is facing additional fraud and corruption charges in connection with Saps’ business dealings with American software company, Brainware.

Police Minister Cele last year had made a recommendation to the president that an inquiry into Sitole’s fitness for office be instituted.

Cele and Sitole have been at loggerheads over a number of issues, with the minister publicly declaring that the pair has no relationship outside work.

The minister previously criticised Sitole and the Saps’ Crime Intelligence division during his testimony at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for failing to provide him with intelligence reports on the riots.

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