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SA’s crime intelligence was in the dark during July unrest, looting – SAHRC hears

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Suspended national police commissioner Khehla Sitole gave a shocking account of events that unfolded in July while testifying before the SAHRC on Tuesday.

Suspended national police commissioner Khehla Sitole. File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

SUSPENDED national police commissioner Khehla Sitole, who testified virtually before the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Tuesday, gave a shocking account of the events that unfolded in July from the perspective of the police, revealing that crime intelligence had no information prior to the outbreak of the unrest.

Before the outbreak of the riots up until the situation appeared to be quelling, Sitole said that the police had submitted one intelligence report to Police Minister Bheki Cele and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The commissioner said that the report, which was provided to the minister, had no relevant information about the modus operandi about the unrest and consisted of information that was already public knowledge.

The organisers of the July unrest made use of “technology” while crime intelligence was not yet up to date with technological advancements because of budgetary constraints, Sitole said.

The commissioner said the lack of resources was the reason that crime intelligence was unable to prepare a “concrete plan” to combat the orchestrated attack.

With KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng burning to the ground, Sitole said that he was in a command office in Pretoria during the upheaval and did not feel the need to be on the ground with Cele, who mentioned several times in a statement that Sitole failed to provide him with information.

Sitole was evasive for the first half of the commission’s questions but things took a turn for the worse when the SAHRC’s advocate Smanga Sethene questioned him.

The commissioner revealed that he has not yet been to the Phoenix area, where 36 people were violently killed. Furthermore, he did not know how many people were killed in Phoenix during the unrest until someone in the room showed him the statistic.

Despite the alarming number of reports about gruesome attacks against black South Africans, Sitole has not been to Amaoti, Bhambayi or Zwelitsha since the civil unrest.

He also revealed that he gave KZN police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi permission to go on paternity leave during the height of the civil unrest.

Sethene told Sitole that this was in violation of a SAPS provision which states nobody should be granted leave during a time of crisis, but the commissioner denied that he failed in his duty.

The advocate pointed out on numerous occasions that Sitole had failed to carry out his duties as a national commissioner, but Sitole denied this every time.

“I think I am still fit for the job.

“Because me and you did not go into the root cause of exactly the factors you are highlighting.

“I am saying that I can still do the job and the factors you are outlining we did not get into the root cause analysis of it,” Sitole said.

Political Bureau

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