The news that the National Police Commissioner, Gen. Khehla Sitole, has reportedly been asked to provide reasons to President Cyril Ramaphosa for why he should not be suspended is bad news for the police service and the people of South Africa as regards crime prevention.
It seems that this turn of events is the result of a clash between Minister Cele and Gen. Sitole regarding appointments for key positions in the police service.
Sitole is indeed shrouded in controversy after a ruling by the court that he and other senior officers used the classification of documents as a "smokescreen" to cover up irregularities relating to the procurement of a cell phone signal interceptor.
It would, however, still be unfortunate to lose a Commissioner with police experience seeing as stability in the top management of the police service is of the utmost importance while the level of crime in the country keeps rising.
The process must now run its course. Sitole has no other choice but to provide his reasons for why he should stay on as Commissioner to the President.
Since 2000, with the appointment of Jackie Selebi, every Police Commissioner has been surrounded by controversy. One of the greatest contributing factors in this regard is that many of the appointments were politically driven and the individuals lacked police experience.
Selebi was a diplomat, Cele a politician and Riah Phiyega was a social worker. Not one of them possessed relevant police experience. It had a direct detrimental effect on the police service, which seemed to be losing the fight against crime.
At the end of November 2017, the first experienced police officer, Gen. Sitole, was appointed as National Commissioner. At the time, he already had about 35 years of police experience.
It would be unfortunate if personal disagreements and clashes between the Minister and Police Commissioner lead to this dissension. And it must be resolved as soon as possible to restore stability to the police service.
If Sitole is dismissed in this way and replaced by yet another political appointment without any knowledge or experience related to police work, it will be a severe blow in the fight against crime.