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By Narissa Subramoney

Deputy digital news editor

National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole steps down

The Presidency confirmed the decision to terminate Sitole's contract earlier was a mutual decision and in SA's best interest.

National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole has resigned and will serve his last day on 31 March.

The Presidency confirmed that Sitole’s early termination of his contract term was by mutual agreement.

“President Ramaphosa and General Sitole have agreed that the early termination of the Commissioner’s contract is in the best interests of the country,” said the Presidency in a statement. 

“The time until General Sitole’s departure will enable a proper handover of various tasks, including all ongoing investigations, to one of the senior members of the team at the Saps that had been assisting General Sitole” 

President 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.”

 An announcement will be made in due course on filling the position of Saps National Commissioner following General Sitole’s departure.

Civil rights body Action Society has welcomed Sitole’s departure from the police.

“It is a small step in the right direction, but Police Minister Bheki Cele must also be sacked whilst an independent panel is appointed to select a competent national commissioner,” said Action Society’s director of community safety Ian Cameron.

Sitole’s rocky ride as Police Commissioner

The police commissioner was served with a notice of intention to place him on suspension, but it never happened because Ramaphosa was deliberating on the matter.

In March 2021, Police Minister Police Bheki Cele had sent a request to the president requesting that Sitole be investigated.

Sitole came under fire following a scathing Pretoria high court ruling in January by Judge Norman Davis, who found the commissioner and two of his deputies had failed in their duties by refusing to provide and declassify documents required by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) for its investigations into allegations of fraud and corruption.

The case is reportedly linked to claims involving a money-laundering scheme to illegally access police funds and disburse them to buy votes at the ANC’s national elective conference in 2017.

The allegations also involve claims related to the procurement of a R45 million surveillance device known as a “grabber” that is used to intercept electronic communications.

Police watchdog Ipid also laid a criminal complaint against Sitole for failing to assist with the investigation into the assassination of anti-gang unit commander Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear in 2020.

There was zero love lost between Sitole and Cele. Most recently a panel of experts described the difficult relationship between the two heads of police as untenable, especially since the two could not work together during the July unrest.

Additional reporting by Sipho Mabena and Thapelo Lekabe.

NOW READ: Cele fires another shot at Sitole

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