Mixed feelings over new police commissioner Khehla Sitole

DA concerned that new SAPS chief not best candidate to "firewall" police from political interference

Mixed feelings over new police commissioner

23 November 2017

Johannesburg – The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and Parliament's police portfolio committee have expressed confidence in newly-appointed national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khehla Sitole, but the DA is less enthused.

On Wednesday said it is confident that newly-appointed national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khehla Sitole will bring stability to the police force.

IPID head Robert McBride said senior management congratulated Sitole on his appointment.

"We have worked with General Sitole in the past and we look forward to working with him in the future in fighting corruption within police ranks. The appointment of General Sitole will go a long way in bringing stability to the SAPS and enhance focus in the fight against crime."

The DA, meanwhile, were less enthused with the appointment, saying Sitole would sympathise with President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma's appointment of Sitole, who had been the divisional commissioner head of protection and security services, was announced on Wednesday afternoon.

The Presidency said the appointment was with immediate effect.

It said his extensive experience in the police service would assist him to "execute this critical task of making South Africans and everyone in the country safer".

The Presidency's statement detailed Sitole's ranks he had held within the police over the years, adding that he brought with him a wealth of operational and management experience to the police force.

Grown through the ranks

"He has grown through the ranks of the police, having joined the service as a constable until his promotion as a lieutenant general in 2011."

The DA's Zakhele Mbhele said the party welcomed the permanent appointment but said he did not believe Sitole was the "best candidate to turn the police into a professional and effective police service to tackle and reduce crime".

He said he was also concerned that Sitole was not the best candidate to "firewall" police from political interference.

He said: "If Zuma says 'jump', Sitole would ask 'how high'."

Mbhele said that, during Sitole’s tenure as Divisional Commissioner of Protection and Security Services, former African Union Chairperson and ANC presidential hopeful Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was granted the use of Presidential Protection Service without merit or grounds.

"While we acknowledge that General Sitole is an improvement from his predecessor because he is an experienced and senior career officer, we are not convinced that he has the backbone to resist political pressure on the [police]."

List of shortlisted candidates

Mbhele said the DA would ask Zuma to reveal the names of the other shortlisted candidates.

Chairperson for the Parliamentary police committee Francois Beukman said the appointment of Sitole was positive.

"Of major importance to the committee is the appointment of a career policeman with extensive experience necessary to improve cohesion and morale necessary for the fight against crime. The committee has for a while called for the appointment of a competent accounting officer with the energy, strategic vision and innovation plans to fight crime and corruption."

He said the committee felt Sitole has the necessary technical and policing expertise to take the police forward.

"The committee urges the management team and all SAPS officers to support General Sitole in ensuring that all within the borders of the country are and feel safe."