General Khehla John Sitole. File photo. Image: Moeletsi Mabe

EMBATTLED national police commissioner Khehla Sitole has been served with a notice of intention to suspend him, eNCA reported on Wednesday night.

Sitole allegedly received a letter from President Cyril Ramaphosa last week asking for representations as to why he should not be suspended as national police commissioner.

According to police sources, Sitole will now have to subject himself to an inquiry.

He’s been given seven days to respond.

The police commissioner was found to have breached his duties as a police officer, in terms of Independent Police Investigating Directorate  (IPID) Act, by intentionally frustrating a string of IPID investigations into corrupt procurement deals within the Crime Intelligence environment. 

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo told the media earlier this week that correspondence between Ramaphosa and the national commissioner was “privileged” and could not be drawn to comment further.

A career cop of over 35 years, Sitole’s troubles began when the Pretoria High Court found in January that he and his two deputies were in breach of their duties for not providing and declassifying documents for the IPID to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption.

Sitole’s woes were compounded when the same court dismissed his application for leave to appeal the January judgment.

The basis of the court matter stems from the alleged attempt by Sitole and his officials to procure a ’grabber’ – an electronic device with the capability of intercepting phone calls and cellphone messages – for R45 million (despite these retailing at between R7 million to R10 million) ahead of the ANC’s 54th national conference in Nasrec, allegedly with the idea of influencing voting for the ruling party’s top leadership positions.

Sitole is also at loggerheads with the Police Minister Bheki Cele.

The relationship between Cele and Sitole came into the spotlight again in July when some police committee MPs in Parliament blamed instability in the police service on political interference in appointments and the rocky relationship between the minister and the commissioner. 

Sitole was appointed national police commissioner in November 2017 by former president Jacob Zuma.

He replaced Riah Phiyega, who was appointed to the position by Zuma in 2012 and axed in 2015.

Before Phiyega, Cele was appointed by former president Jacob Zuma to serve as commissioner between 2009 and 2011 but was suspended following corruption allegations while his predecessor, the late Jackie Selebi, was axed from the position amid corruption allegations. Selebi was later convicted and sentenced to 15 years in jail.

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