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Bheki Cele mounts challenge on Khehla Sitole's fitness to hold office of top cop

National police commissioner Khehla Sitole .
National police commissioner Khehla Sitole .
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

President Cyril Ramaphosa is considering his options as pressure mounts for him to suspend under-fire police commissioner Khehla Sitole.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Tyrone Seale confirmed to TimesLIVE that Ramaphosa had received a request from police minister Bheki Cele for an inquiry into Sitole’s fitness to hold office.

“The president is applying his mind to a request from the minister of police to establish an inquiry into the fitness of the national commissioner of police to hold office. Given the implications of this request for the leadership of the SA Police Service‚ the president is taking care to ensure he has all the information he needs to make an informed decision on this matter‚” said Seale.

If Ramaphosa goes ahead with the inquiry‚ this would be the third police commissioner to go through such a process and possibly vacate the position unceremoniously.

Cele himself‚ before becoming police minister‚ was removed through an inquiry and so was his successor‚ Riah Phiyega.

Sitole has come under fire since the Pretoria high court ruled that he and his deputies had “breached their duties” in not providing and declassifying documents for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption.

Sitole‚ as well as his deputies Francinah Ntombenhle Vuma and Lebeona Jacob Tsumane‚ were dealt a further blow this week when their appeal was dismissed.

The fight between Sitole and Ipid centres on allegations of corruption and the refusal of police top brass to declassify documents which the watchdog requires to conduct its investigation.

Among the allegations is that of procurement of a R45m intelligence gathering device known as a “grabber”‚ used at the ANC's 2017 elective conference.

Ipid intercepted the police’s Crime Intelligence bid to illegally access R45m to purchase the intelligence gathering equipment‚ which is used to intercept cellphone calls‚ messages and other communications.


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