Top SAPS officials suspect ulterior motives behind suspensions
Johannesburg - Top SAPS officials have raised concerns about the suspension of more than 10 senior officers, saying the move was unprecedented and has weakened the police.
They say they believe there are ulterior motives behind the high rate of suspensions and investigation of senior police officers for various allegations.
The sources say it for the first time in the history of the country where so many members are either suspended, under investigation or being dismissed.
"This is unprecedented. The organisation is being weakened and almost every week, more and more officers are being targeted," said a source speaking on condition of anonymity. Currently, about 10 senior members of SAPS are either in courts, being investigated internally, suspended or face dismissal. The list includes former national commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, Crime intelligence boss, Lieutenant-General Peter Jacobs, supply chain manager Brigadier James Ramanjalum and former Gauteng provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange to mention a few.
The sources this week told the Sunday Independent that some of the officers being investigated are allegedly part of a ploy to purge and free up key positions to allow the looting of resources. "One of the key positions that have been targeted has been the supply chain department which is responsible for a large budget," said the source. At least three officers have told the publication that the purge has led to the multimillion-rand personal protective equipment (PPE) tender scandal that has rocked the SAPS.
"Despite all the information being available, those responsible are still going to work because they were acting on orders from above but other officers are continuously being investigated. When one charge is dropped, when they are set to return to work a new one emerges but these officers responsible for wasting taxpayers are protected," said a source.
The SAPS purge has set Sitole and Police Minister Bheki Cele on a collision course with the minister having written to the commissioner on two occasions, calling for the reinstatement of some of the suspended officers. Sitole has however defied Cele on both occasions.
In 2019, Cele wrote a letter to Sitole calling for the reinstatement of James Ramanjalum after his suspension but as he was set to return, new charges were brought up against him. On December 1, 2020, Cele wrote another letter to Sitole instructing him to halt the suspensions of Crime Intelligence officers but that too was ignored.
In the letter, Cele said the suspensions should be halted until his office had received a final report on alleged R2b personal protective equipment (PPE) tender irregularities from Inspector-General of Intelligence, Setlhomamaru Dintwe.
Sitole responded by saying the Public Finance Management Act allows him as the Accounting Officer of the SAPS to act on allegations of financial misconduct which motivated the disciplinary action that was taken.