Gauteng Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela has been earmarked to replace National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole whose departure was announced on Friday.
Sitole is yet another police chief who has failed to finish his term. Just like Jackie Selebi and Riah Phiyega before him, Sitole’s contract was terminated “by mutual agreement” after a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
A statement issued on Friday by acting presidential spokesperson Tyrone Seale, said:President Cyril Ramaphosa has, by mutual agreement, terminated the employment contract of the National Commissioner of the SA Police Service (SAPS) General Khehla Sitole with effect from March 31 2022.
Seale said the president and Sitole had agreed that the early termination of his contract was in the best interest of the country.
“The time until General Sitole’s departure will enable a proper handover of various tasks, including all the ongoing investigations, to one of the senior members of the team at the SAPS that had been assisting Sitole,” he said.
The president 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.
But this development did not come as a surprise as City Press reported a fortnight ago that Sitole’s days as head of the police were numbered. City Press learnt then that Sitole could face an inquiry into his fitness to hold office if he did not resign, said sources.
But Sitole might not be the only casualty. A source said Police Minister Bheki Cele could be moved to another portfolio because of the unrest last July, which found the police were ill-prepared to deal with the riots in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
“[Ramaphosa] wants both of them out. He’s weighing up David Mahlobo or Fikile Mbalula again. That’s what I hear. Mahlobo apparently made an impression on the president,” said the source.
During his State of the Nation Address early this month, Ramaphosa said there would be “leadership changes” in the security agencies.
The president had already asked Sitole to provide reasons why he should not face an inquiry into his fitness to hold office.
This after Cele requested the president to launch such an inquiry, following a damning ruling by the Pretoria High Court that Sitole and Deputy Commissioners Ntombenhle Vuma and Lebeona Tsumane had “breached their duties” by not handing over or declassifying documents for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption.
Last week City Press reported that Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale allegedly told Sitole to resign in order to avoid an intrusive inquiry into his fitness to hold office.