The Presidency has confirmed that national police commissioner Khehla Sitole is facing suspension and has been invited to make a case against his suspension to the president.
President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote to Sitole after reports that the commissioner had frustrated a probe into corrupt procurement deals by the Crime Intelligence division. The investigations were being conducted by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
The matter was referred to court and became the subject of a finding by Judge Dennis Davis in the North Gauteng High Court.
Davis had ruled that Sitole and two lieutenants, Francinah Vuma and Leonard Tsumane, had “breached their duties” in failing to co-operate with Ipid.
Ramaphosa said, “the issues arising from the high court judgment are serious” and is now forging ahead with an inquiry into Sitole’s alleged misconduct and fitness to hold office.
“This is merited by the public interest in the integrity of the office of the national commissioner,” said Ramaphosa.
The president outlined this context in his letter to Sitole and gave the commissioner two weeks to respond. Sithole has since submitted representations, and “further engagement on this matter will be between the president and the national commissioner.”
Civil rights organisation Action Society called described Sitole’s pending suspension as reckless.
“It means that challenges such as the gender-based violence will be even more neglected, not to mention the social unrest risk posed by the upcoming elections and planned trade union strikes,” said Action Society Spokesperson Ian Cameron.
“There has not been a single national commissioner in the last 20 years, that has not been under suspicion or found guilty of some kind of corruption or other criminal offence under the ANC rule,” Cameron added.
Sithole was appointed by former president Jacob Zuma. He served as deputy national police commissioner for policing operations in 2013 under then national police commissioner Riah Phiyega.
ALSO READ: New top cop says he ‘won’t be a puppet.’