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Questions over split in cop ranks at SAHRC unrest probe

Police Minister Bheki Cele at the Human Rights Commission hearing into the July unrest in Durban yesterday. Picture: Theo Jeptha/African News Agency (ANA)

Police Minister Bheki Cele at the Human Rights Commission hearing into the July unrest in Durban yesterday. Picture: Theo Jeptha/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 3, 2021


DURBAN - Testimonies given during the South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) hearing into the July unrest by the leadership of the South African Police Service (SAPS) have raised questions as to whether the country’s police are acting in unison.

Police Minister General Bheki Cele testified yesterday during the commission’s last day in KwaZulu-Natal before the Christmas break. He said National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole, who was stationed at an operations centre in Pretoria during the unrest, should have been closer to the action.

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Cele told the commission that there was enough money in the SAPS crime intelligence unit despite many claims that unit was under-funded and, as a result, could not plan ahead of the unrest.

He said a newly appointed head of Crime Intelligence (CI), Major General Feroz Khan, whose appointment he did not authorise, signed a long list of finances from a secret fund worth R500 million.

Cele said that the culprits behind the unrest may have started planning long before, referring to the dismantling of the CI unit after six top officials, including head of CI Peter Jacobs, were served with suspension notices last year.

Cele also said he was not advised with regards to the decision to suspend the former top officials at the unit, and the move was granted permission by a court after he challenged it.

“I hear that Khan, General Khan, is acting as the head of intelligence. I don't know, I did not sign that. Now I try to find out from the commissioner (Khehla Sitole). He explains to say ’no, it was not acting, it was a part of acting’.

“What is a part of acting? Sign some things and not some things. And the guy has signed a long list of things (Khan). This is half a billion we are talking about. It is called a secret fund. It is very difficult to be accounted for,” Cele said.

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“Anybody who says the work did not happen because there was no money; no, there was money. There was money to such an extent that the Treasury is granting the request of about R138 million in roll-over. It was granted in May for the money to be used. These things happen in July. So it is not an excuse to say there was no money. There was money granted by the Treasury,” the minister said.

The organisers of the July unrest resorted to “technology”, and police crime intelligence was not yet up to date with technological advancements because of budget constraints, Sitole told the commission. The lack of resources was the reason that crime intelligence was unable to prepare a “concrete plan” to combat the orchestrated attack, he said.

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