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By Citizen Reporter


Cele fires another shot at Sitole

'Most of the time I find myself working with the deputies,' says the Police Minister.

The working relationship between Police Minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole seems to still be rocky.

Cele fired the latest shot on the sidelines of the State of the Nation Address (Sona) at the Cape Town City Hall on Thursday night.

“I want a national [police] commissioner that will work together in a full understanding that our job is not [aligned] to factions, but the person, when it comes to crime intelligence, we [must work] together and walk in unison both physically and mentally. Our first prize is to deal with crime,” he told the SABC.

Asked if he was working together with Sitole to carry out their duties, the minister said: “Even today he is not here. I was moving around the laboratories [and] he’s not there.

“Most of the time I find myself working with the deputies. Maybe you can ask him why most of the time the minister is working with the deputies rather than the man himself.”

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

Cele and Sitole have been at loggerheads for a while, with the minister publicly declaring that the pair has no relationship outside work.

In August 2021, the minister said during an interview that he and Sitole “are not friends“.

The pair’s relationship came into the spotlight when some Members of Parliament (MPs) blamed instability within the South African Police Service (Saps) on political interference in appointments and the rocky relationship between the minister and the commissioner.

This led to Parliament’s portfolio committee on police calling on Cele and Sitole to “strengthen their relationship to ensure improved efficiency” within Saps.

July Riots

This week, a panel of experts who looked into the July 2021 riots expressed concern over Cele and Sitole’s relationship.

In the report, the panel said the differences in opinion between the minister and the commissioner about whether the police did enough to prevent the violence indicated there was no agreement on the capacity of police “at the very top”.

“The failure of the police must be seen also against the background of the Minister of Police stating clearly in his submission that the suspension of six crime intelligence officers by the National Commissioner weakened that division,” the report reads.

The panel further recommended constitutional changes to the appointment of a national police commissioner.

READ MORE: Cele gives sneak peek into icy relations with top cop Sitole

“The appointment procedure of the national police commissioner, as set out in the Constitution, may need to be changed. The attempts in legislation to try and delineate the powers of the police minister from those of the commissioner, while commendable, have introduced some confusion over the years.

“We were informed that whether the relationship between a minister and a commissioner works depends on the individuals occupying the posts.

“This is clearly untenable and, if it requires closer scrutiny of the process leading to the appointment of the national commissioner, this should receive urgent attention,” the report stated.

President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the release of the 154-report on Monday.

Cele previously criticised Sitole and the Saps’ Crime Intelligence division during his testimony at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for failing to provide him with intelligence reports on the riots.

The 8 to 19 July riots resulted in more than 330 people losing their lives, and cost R25 billion in damages.


Sitole has been charged for his alleged refusal to cooperate with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) relating to its investigation into murder of Anti-Gang Unit detective Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear.

Ipid Executive Director Jennifer Dikeledi Ntlatseng wrote to Cele, requesting his intervention in the matter after Sitole allegedly avoided attempts by Ipid investigators to interview him in 2021.

While the police commissioner has denied these claims, he is facing additional fraud and corruption charges in connection with Saps’ business dealings with American software company, Brainware. 

The Presidency confirmed last October that Sitole is also facing suspension, and invited the police commissioner to make a case against his suspension to the President.

This came after Cele had recommended to President Cyril Ramaphosa that an inquiry into Sitole’s fitness for office be instituted.

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