The DA wants SAPS Commissioner Fannie Masemola to step down from his role should it be found that he misled Parliament over a retired officer’s non-attendance of a Scopa meeting three months ago.
This after it emerged on Tuesday that Brigadier Jaap Burger disputed the explanation given by Masemola for his non-attendance at a Scopa meeting in June.
Burger was assigned by Masemola to meet former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter after the latter made allegations about corruption involving cartels, syndicates and implicated senior politicians after he commissioned an intelligence report.
He did not attend a Scopa meeting on Tuesday and the MPs heard that he wrote a letter to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula explaining why he had not attended the meeting three months ago.
Since Burger’s attendance before Scopa is still outstanding amid a push that he should appear before the joint standing committee on intelligence, the public finance watchdog is now seeking legal advice from the parliamentary legal services on the options available to them on the appearance of Burger.
DA MP Benedicta van Minnen said they took note of Burger’s letter that outlined a series of events that raised questions about the accuracy of Masemola's statements to Scopa in June.
“Burger states that on June 4, 2023, commissioner Masemola informed him of Scopa's request for his presence at a committee meeting on June 7, 2023. Following this notification, Burger met with the commissioner on June 5 to express his reservations about attending the meeting,” she said.
Van Minnen said Masemola had reported to Scopa that he was unable to locate Burger.
“If Burger's account is accurate, it suggests that the commissioner may have presented an incorrect version of events to Parliament,” she said.
“Making erroneous statements when submitting information to Parliament is a statutory offence under the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities Act, and impeding Parliament from exercising its functions and authority is an offence which is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to three years.”
She said they were seeking legal opinion to ascertain whether the police commissioner misled the committee during the briefing.
“If it is verified that the meeting occurred, and that the commissioner did in fact mislead Scopa, the commissioner must step down from his role, as holding office while having committed an offence is not acceptable,” Van Minnen said.
National spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said: "The SAPS and it’s accounting officer are accountable to Parliament and it’s relevant oversight committees, such as the portfolio committee on police. The national commissioner will thus respond through these applicable oversight committees should the need arise."