President Cyril Ramaphosa says government followed several processes before arriving at the decision that National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole should step down.
Ramaphosa was speaking on the sidelines of the Eastern Cape African National Congress’ extended Provincial Executive Committee meeting in Mthatha.
He says the decision is in the interest of the country and the police service.
Sitole will cease to be National Police Commissioner at the end of next month.
Ramaphosa says government will now embark on a process to elect a new National Police Commissioner.
“We go through a number of processes in government. The National Police Commissioner and myself have agreed that it is in the interest of the country and the police service that he should terminate his services a little earlier than he had anticipated.”
Earlier, Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale said Ramaphosa did not dismiss Sitole but removed him after a mutual agreement.
Mathale says Sitole was already planning to take early retirement.
Meanwhile, COPE said it’s disappointed that the National Police Commissioner is the only one who has taken the fall.
COPE spokesperson Dennis Bloem says, “COPE is very disappointed in the selective decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa to only fire the National Commissioner of Police Khehla Sitole. He did not fire the Minister of Police Bheki Cele. In our view, the President is supposed to also fire Minister Bheki Cele. The Minister has failed in his duty to keep the county safe. In the report of the expert panel on the July 2021 unrest, the panel made it very clear that the executive must take full responsibility for what happened in July 2021. Therefore it cannot be that only Khehla Sitole must be fired. It will be in the best interest of the country to also fire Minister of Police Bheki Cele.”
Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole’s removal and the impact on policing: Dr Guy Lamb
FF Plus also calls for Cele’s sacking
The Freedom Front-Plus says the sacking of Sitole will end the current tensions in the senior structures of the police services. FFPlus leader and Member of Parliament’s Police Committee Pieter Groenewald says President Ramaphosa’s next move should be to remove Bheki Cele as Police Minister. He says the President should now appoint a commission with knowledge of policing to search and appoint the next Police Commissioner who should be an experienced police officer and not a politician.
Groenewald adds, “The early termination of the service contract of the Commissioner of Police will certainly contribute in easing the tension between the Minster’s Office and senior management of the Police Services. The senior management will now be able to focus more on what they are supposed to do and that is fighting crime in South Africa. The President must also replace the Minster of Police because Bheki Cele has an aspiration to be a Commissioner himself and he will always interfere even if there is a new commissioner and then we will have the same situation of tension.”