Home South African Top cop vows to clean up the SAPS

Top cop vows to clean up the SAPS

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National police commissioner says he will charge whoever has committed a crime regardless of their rank or race.

Police commissioner General Khehla Sitole. Picture: Phando Jikelo

NATIONAL police commissioner General Khehla Sitole believes he is being targeted in smear campaigns and on dubious charges after he ordered a full-scale investigation into the SAPS’ supply chain management unit. In an exclusive interview with Independent Media, Sitole vowed to stop the rot within the police.

“So far, 42 members are facing charges of corruption, from constables to generals. This is a clean-up campaign to restore the image of the SAPS and not a purge,” Sitole said.

The commissioner said he would charge whoever has committed a crime regardless of their rank or race.

Among those facing corruption allegations is the deputy national commissioner for human resources, Lieutenant-General Bonang Mgwenya, who is facing charges of fraud, corruption, theft, and money-laundering.

She became one of 13 people – nine of whom are police officers – to be arrested in connection with a R191 million blue light contract that was awarded in 2017. She is out on R20 000 bail. Some of the accused in the case include former acting national commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and former Gauteng provincial commissioner Deliwe de Lange.

De Lange and Phahlane later opened several cases of perjury and defeating the ends of justice against Sitole, claiming that the national commissioner was aware of the blue light scandal, an allegation that Sitole vehemently denied.

“There would be witnesses, including the whistle-blower, who would testify that I knew nothing about this as those implicated tried to hide it from me.

“No one is above the law. I am also not above the law but I will fight corruption within SAPS without any fear or favour.”

Sitole, the second career ranking police officer after George Fivaz to be appointed national commissioner, graduated as a top student at the police college and rose through the ranks. He was appointed national commissioner in November 2017.

He has been credited with cracking the Senzo Meyiwa murder case within two years after his predecessors failed to make inroads in four years.

“I introduced the cold case strategy in 2018 and the Senzo Meyiwa case was one of the first cases that I tasked the newly formed cold case unit to investigate.”

This week, five men who were allegedly hired to kill the former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates captain six years ago were arrested and appeared in the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court. The alleged hitmen did not apply for bail as some were already serving time for other crimes.

However, Sitole this week refused to claim any credit for the case.

“All credit must go to the cold case unit head, Colonel Bongani Ginindza. He and his team worked tirelessly on the Senzo case and they deserve all the credit.”

Sitole said the Meyiwa case wasn’t a walk in the park, first because it happened six years ago and, second, because there were high-ranking officers who were involved from inception.

“Without the cold case strategy, I don’t think we would have cracked the case so far.”

Sitole said the first breakthrough in the Meyiwa case came in March this year when they identified the first suspect based on evidence supplied by a specific witness.

“From then we started putting the pieces of the puzzle together and finally, all the suspects that we believe were involved in Senzo’s murder were arrested and appeared in court this week.”

The gun that was allegedly used to kill the soccer star was also traced to Cleveland Police Station where it was retrieved.

“Ballistic evidence has confirmed that it was the same weapon used to kill Senzo.”

When one of the accused in the Meyiwa case was arrested for killing an Alexandra taxi boss, he was found in possession of the gun. The man is serving time for that murder.

The Meyiwa murder case was postponed to November 27.

Sunday Independent