Thapelo Lekabe
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
3 Dec 2021
4:40 pm

Cele to unrest inquiry: I don’t recall seeing top cop Sitole in the ‘right places’

Thapelo Lekabe

The minister told the SAHRC inquiry National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole was missing in action during the July violence.

Picture File: Police Minister Bheki Cele briefs the media alongside National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole. Picture: Gallo Images/Netwerk24/Jaco Marais

Police Minister Bheki Cele says a total of 19 suspected instigators have been arrested to date for the deadly unrest that rocked parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July.

Cele on Friday afternoon testified at the South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC’s) inquiry into the July unrest and looting.

He said while police initially said 12 suspected instigators were behind the violence, the number had now increased to 19, with most of the suspects currently out on bail except for one, who was arrested by the Hawks on Tuesday.

“Those people who were arrested we got warrants of arrest for them. When we get a warrant of arrest, it means there is a belief that you’ve got some questions to answer,” Cele said.

Sphithiphithi Evaluator

Cele confirmed that one of the suspects – Zamaswazi Majozi, who was nabbed in August and released on R3,000 bail – had sued him in his capacity as the minister of police, claiming that her arrest had ruined her life.

Majozi has apparently also lodged a complaint with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over the matter.

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Majozi is behind the controversial Twitter account “Sphithiphithi Evaluator” and she was charged with incitement to commit public violence via social media and other platforms, in relation to the riots in July that occurred after former president Jacob Zuma was incarcerated for contempt of court.

Cele said: “One of them, the famous one called Sphithiphithi [Evaluator], is taking the minister of police to court for the loss of income and the loss of everything…

“She has also taken the matter to the public protector. The matter is in court and we don’t think it would be opportune for the public protector to work on a matter that is still in court.”

The minister said he was concerned that Majozi was communicating with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane about some Cabinet ministers with regards to “political matters”, which he did not disclose to the SAHRC inquiry.

He said Mkhwebane requested the police docket in connection with Majozi’s case, but they refused and told her she could only get access to the affidavit as the investigation was still ongoing.

“This Sphithiphithi [Evaluator] has been in communication on political matters with the public protector about some members, some of them they’re in Cabinet.

“Now the public protector goes to the investigators to get the docket because she wants to investigate a hot docket that is in court,” Cele said.

‘Sitole nowhere to be found’

Cele complained to the inquiry, as alleged in his affidavit, that he did not receive any intelligence reports from National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole.

He said Sitole was missing in action during the July unrest that claimed the lives of over 300 people and caused extensive economic damage.

“I’m told we were trying to find him in the wrong places. I think those that looked for him in the wrong places, he should have tried to be in the right places. Not to be in the wrong places,” Cele said.

“And the right places is where things were happening, where people were dying, where looting was taking place… I really I just don’t remember [seeing him].

“The people that I would have worked with are the provincial commissioner here [KZN police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi] and the acting provincial commissioner in Gauteng [Major-General Tommy Mthombeni],” he added.

Testifying at the inquiry on Tuesday, Sitole was questioned regarding an intelligence report about the unrest, which Cele said he had not received.

Sitole told the commission not all intelligence reports had been sent to Cele because he “picks out what is relevant for the briefing of the minister”.

Sitole said he “personally did not receive a report relating to modus operandi pertaining to the violence” prior to the outbreak of the riots.

Additional reporting by Cheryl Kahla

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