The South African Policing Union (SAPU) is calling on Police Minister Bheki Cele to initiate a process where President Cyril Ramaphosa will establish a board of inquiry into the fitness of national commissioner General Khehla Sitole to hold office.
“SAPU calls for a swift action to establish the fitness capability of General Sitole to hold office. We believe the new dawn advocated by President Ramaphosa will not be realised in the police as long as General Sitole is at the helm,” the union’s general secretary, Tumelo Mogodiseng, said in a statement.
Mogodiseng said the union had reached the end of the road with the Sitole, adding that he “has taken the South African Police Service down the left lane”.
The union claimed that Sitole practiced autocratic leadership style and that their attempts to work with him had failed.
“Our attempts at both engaging him and giving sound advice to him have not worked.
“He is trying to force what he calls transformation into the throats of senior commanders. This has led to a demoralised police service management. There is no way that the police can succeed in the battle against crime,” Mogodiseng said.
However, Sitole’s spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said it was unfortunate that SAPU had opted to use this route to raise their concerns, when they knew they had an open line of communication with SAPS management.
“Since the inception of the Rationalisation Process in the SAPS, labour, including SAPU, was consulted every step of the way. Their contribution has always been valuable and we will continue to maintain a healthy working relationship with them,” said Naidoo.
SAPU said it didn’t have a personal vendetta against Sitole.
“This is a self-made own goal by his failure to welcome counsel. We have tried on several occasions to advise him to change his leadership style. There is no turning back now – he has to go,” said Mogodiseng.
“General Sitole must go, not tomorrow, but now.”
Call for removal premature
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popru), however. believes that SAPU’s call for the commissioner’s removal is “premature”.
“We have, in fact, found Mr Sitole to be a person who is engageable,” Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said.
Mamabolo said that, when the union marched to the SAPS making demands regarding restructuring within policing, SAPS had responded.
“We have seen action being taken, it might not be as sufficient as we would want action to be taken, but as compared to those who came before him, we think he is a person who is engageable,” he said.
Mamabolo said, while Popcru itself did not to always agree with SAPS, it found the calls for Sitole to vacate unnecessary.
“We think the SAPS, as compared to many other sectors within the criminal justice cluster, is on the right way to rebuilding itself and ensuring that there is credibility,” said Mamabolo.
The police ministry said it would not comment on the matter.