A reply to a parliamentary question shows that National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole is seemingly promoting individuals to "bloat" his office at a rapid rate, the DA said. Picture: Phando Jikelo

Cape Town - A reply to a Democratic Alliance parliamentary question shows that National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole is seemingly promoting individuals to "bloat" his office at a rapid rate, the DA said on Sunday.

"More worryingly, this is being done in a manner that is not transparent at all and underscores the DA's position that the professionalisation of the police service will only be possible when there are transparent, competitive, and merit-based appointment and promotion processes in the South African Police Service (SAPS) as a matter of course," DA spokesman Zakhele Mbhele said.

The DA had previously requested that Police Minister Bheki Cele urgently repeal regulation 45(1)(n) of the SAPS employment regulations due to the continued abuse which had seen successive national police commissioners promote individuals who may not be fit-for-purpose, he said.

The regulation provides that the national commissioner, with the concurrence of the minister, may promote an employee into a post without advertising the post and without following the prescribed selection process, if the national commissioner was satisfied that the employee qualified in all aspects for the post; there were exceptional circumstances that warranted the deviation from the sub-regulation; and such deviation was in the interest of service.

"It is concerning that it only took Sitole just under five months to apply this regulation, as his predecessors did previously. Since Sitole took office, he has used regulation 45 to promote 16 SAPS members. At this rapid rate, it would mean that Sitole is promoting four members per month," Mbhele said.

Similarly, in the 27 months of her tenure, former national commisioner Riah Phiyega promoted two members per month while Khomotso Phahlane promoted four individuals per month during his 19-month stint. Even worse, former, commissioner Lesetja Mothiba promoted more than five people per month during his five-month tenure.

"It is also still unclear why Sitole has promoted these members, as there have been no compelling reasons provided for the expedited appointments. Specifically, Sitole has not provided reasons why each appointment had 'exceptional circumstances that warrant the deviation from the said subregulation'," Mbhele said.

This raised questions as to the fitness of these individuals, because their merit had not been tested, nor could such fitness-for-purpose be demonstrated objectively in the absence of a competitive selection process, and the public deserved to know if these members had qualifications and requisite experience to promote the fight against the unacceptably high levels of crime in the country.

"The SAPS leadership is besieged with crises, resulting in chronic underfunding which has resulted in the failure to ensure the police service carries out its mandate of keeping South Africans safe in their communities. These deviated appointments under regulation 45 can only exacerbate the problem and are a huge organisational risk for enabling cronyism and undermining meritocracy in the police service.

"The potential flagrant abuse of funds involved in such appointments could be channelled to the detective services, the family violence, child protection, and sexual offences units, and crime intelligence, among others.

"Minister Cele must prove that he has what it takes to root out cronyism and mismanagement in the SAPS and that he will take effective action to address the numerous issues hampering the police’s ability to ensure safe streets and safe homes for all South Africans," Mbhele said.

African News Agency/ANA