Mounting Tensions Between Two Police Bosses in the Spotlight

The Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, and his Police Commissioner, Khehla Sithole’s working relationship is reported to have been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Read further for more details.


The reported tensions between Cele and Sithole came to the public attention after Cele was reported to have written a letter to Sithole two months ago. The letter is reported to have instructed Sithole to dismiss senior officials he appointed without Cele’s approval as the Minister of Police.

We don’t drink off together but let me assure you, we work together. Even if you want to see our phones, we phone one another almost daily. In that work there are things that we don’t agree upon, but its not animosity we are not fighting.

Cele and Sithole dismiss the allegations of tension saying that there might be differences in the way people work but that doesn’t justify tension.

There are growing concerns by the public that the tension between the two top cops affects the police services at large. Questions have also been mounting about the recent looting unrest and the delay of the police in attending to the riots.

The continuing dispute between Cele and Sithole may place the South African Police Service (SAPS) in a difficult state and affect crime fighting negatively.

The Portfolio Committee Chair, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, stated that the country deserves better professionals. She noted the importance of having dedicated crime fighting officials under the difficult time that South Africa experiences.

We need a revitalised leadership with forward thinking professionals, especially in the new growing crime of Cyber-crime and gender-based violence.

The reports have also seen a growing number of private security services being hired to fight crime in the place of police officials. This is evident to the dysfunctional leadership in the police sector.

Its not clear if one of the top cops will have to make way for new leadership that will focus on fighting crime not each other. Cele and Sithole continues to deny the existing tensions between them. 


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