Home South African Bheki Cele questioned over lack of security clearance for top cop

Bheki Cele questioned over lack of security clearance for top cop

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Police Minister Bheki Cele says he has been waiting for the State Security Agency to give national police commissioner Fannie Masemola security clearance.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele. Picture: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

POLICE Minister Bheki Cele has faced questions in Parliament about national commissioner Fannie Masemola not having a security clearance from the State Security Agency (SSA).

Cele said the delay has been on the side of the SSA, as he has been asking for it.

He said even reminded the minister responsible for SSA, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, about it at the meeting of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster on Tuesday.

Cele and senior officials of the SAPS were appearing before members of the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on Wednesday when the issue of the lack of security clearance by Masemola was raised.

The minister confirmed that the security clearance expired in 2018.

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He said the security clearance was not done by the SAPS, but by the SSA.

“In the meeting we had yesterday with the cluster and with the new minister of State Security in the Presidency, we have been having this cross-checking, because except for the national commissioner, the rest of higher echelons or level of management will be done by SAPS,” said Cele.

“We think we need to change, it should be that SSA does SAPS and SAPS does SSA. That is one thing we are working on. I even yesterday reminded the minister of state security that can they do this one quickly, which is a question of the expiry date of the national commissioner that happened in 2018. It’s across the board in the Cabinet situation that all DGs are employed at the preliminary and then there is a timeline where they are supposed to come with that kind of report.”

But MPs said it was unacceptable that Masemola would sit in the position, where there are sensitive security issues, but does not have a security clearance.

The committee said it would seek a legal opinion on the matter.

Members of the committee said given the sensitive nature of the information Masemola would receive and work on, he would need to have top security clearance.

The delay for Masemola to be cleared would compromise national security issues, they said.

The committee said it has been a long time, since 2018, that Masemola has not had a security clearance.

Andrew Whitfield of the DA said it was not projecting the position in a good light, with the top official in the SAPS not being cleared by SSA.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said Cele would have to go directly to President Cyril Ramaphosa to ask him to expedite the process, as they have been waiting for a long time.

Cele denied that they were breaking the law by having Masemola in charge of the SAPS pending his security clearance by the security agency.

“Chairperson, there are laws … One of the laws is that SSA must grant us the clearance of the national commissioner. I guess the capacity that you have in the SAPS of crime intelligence would have done that. But that would be breaking the law again.

“As I said, I have appealed to (SSA and the minister) and really beyond that I can’t do anything except remind them. I say Cabinet employs DGs and that includes the DG we are having, which is the SAPS national commissioner, and they have the policy to say you employ them preliminary and you work on their permanent (employment). That’s a Cabinet decision. It’s not a ministerial decision,” said Cele.

He said he agreed with members of the committee that he may have to move with speed to try to get the security clearance of Masemola from the SSA.

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