Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Cele is accused of meddling in police operations after sending a scathing letter

Police Minister Bheki Cele has been accused of meddling in operational matters after a scathing letter he sent to the “irresponsible” top cop, General Khehla Sitole

On Thursday, spokespersons for both Cele and Sitole created a united front. They refused to respond to claims that Cele was usurping Sitole’s powers after the minister rebuked the police commissioner for the latter’s Tuesday appointment of senior managers at the South African Police Service (SAPS). 

In a letter written on Tuesday, which the Mail & Guardian has seen, Cele chastised Sitole for making the senior appointments, charging that the nation’s top cop was supposed to submit new names for the minister’s “consideration and concurrence”. This, Cele added, was based on an alleged agreement he and Sitole reached during a meeting last month. 

“You, therefore, blatantly ignored my instructions and the provisions of the SAPS Employment Regulations 2018 when you went ahead and announced these appointments. Your disregard for my position as the executive authority of the department of police and relevant regulations is regarded as serious and will not be tolerated,” Cele wrote.  

“Your irresponsible actions further opened the department to possible litigation and disputes.” 

It was these hard words that sources said proved Cele was interfering with Sitole’s work, with the police commissioner being solely responsible for operational decisions. 

“The man in the hat [Cele] is obstructive. Cele wants to run the SAPS,” alleged a source, who asked to remain anonymous. 

Another insider said Cele was still yearning for the role of police commissioner. The source claimed that the minister’s alleged omnipresence in all policing matters, particularly during Covid-19 operations and briefings, was aimed at “sabotaging” Sitole’s authority. 

“He [Cele] forgets that his tenure ended in October 2011. Cele should allow the general [Sitole] to do what he was appointed to do — and that is to be the operations head of all things policing,” contended another source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. 

However, police ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba refused to respond to these allegations, saying: “The correspondences between the minister and national police commissioner are official,and at this stage we have no comment.”

Her views were echoed by national SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo, who said: “It is rather unfortunate that someone would choose to leak a correspondence between two offices to the media.” 

Naidoo added: “Nevertheless, we will not respond to any query based on any communication between the office of the minister and national commissioner.”

In his letter, Cele added that the appointments Sitole made were “invalid and irregular”, with Cele “instructing” the top cop to withdraw the positions by 4pm on Wednesday. Cele asserted that Sitole’s moves showed “blatant contempt” for the minister’s authority. 

Sources told the M&G that Sitole had not rescinded the appointments as of Thursday morning. 

Naidoo did not respond to the M&G’s queries about whether Sitole had acquiesced to the instruction, or what would happen to the police commissioner for the alleged defiance.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Khaya Koko
Khaya Koko is a journalist with a penchant for reading through legal documents braving the ravages of cold court benches to expose the crooked. He writes about social justice and human-interest stories. Most importantly, he is a card-carrying member of the Mighty Orlando Pirates.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Roshan Morar’s fingers in every pie, including KZN education and...

The controversial auditor’s firm seconded staff to run the education department’s finance offices for more than 15 years. What’s more, former KZN education director general Cassius Lubisi is the audit firm’s new chair

Revealed: R2.7bn in wasted funds is reason for protests

The auditor general paints a dire picture of Mangaung’s finances

More top stories

Facts and figures: The proportion of of women legislators worldwide

Twenty-six years after the Beijing Declaration, which set the target for reaching gender balance in political decision-making, women are still underrepresented across all levels of power

Roshan Morar’s fingers in every pie, including KZN education and...

The controversial auditor’s firm seconded staff to run the education department’s finance offices for more than 15 years. What’s more, former KZN education director general Cassius Lubisi is the audit firm’s new chair

Revealed: R2.7bn in wasted funds is reason for protests

The auditor general paints a dire picture of Mangaung’s finances

South Africa’s youth are not ‘millennials’

Labelling them in the same way as youth in the US leads to false perceptions and misunderstanding
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×