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Bheki Cele says it was a conscious decision not to inform him about the July riots

Police Minister Bheki Cele testified at the South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC‘s) investigative hearings into Monday’s July riots.

The SAHRC holds a national investigative hearing into the devastating riots that swept through parts of Gauteng and are expected to continue until March 4

Earlier in the proceedings, Cele indicated that: there were signs of unrest for the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma

The rampant looting and violent unrest in some parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng, causing more than 300 people deadwas caused by Zuma’s arrest in July 2021 after a Constitutional Court (ConCourt) make a statement

The minister also reiterated that he could not recall receiving an intelligence report on riots from the South African police (juice) and the State Security Service (SSA).

‘A little war’

Cele continued his testimony at the SAHRC hearings last year and was asked if any intervention or action had been taken from his office to ensure he received intelligence reports.

The minister suggested there was “a little bit of war going on at the time,” following the removal of the chief of Saps’ Crime Intelligence Division and other top police officials.

“I got a call one morning from the national [police] Commissioner [General Khehla Sitole] that he has received a report [about the crime intelligence division head] of the IGIA [Inspector-General of Intelligence]†

ALSO READ: Cele fires another shot at Sitole

“But I said I wonder why the report is with you because as far as I understand the report from the IGI is being discussed with the Minister of Police.

“I would have expected that if there was such a report it would have been discussed with me, which is an issue that has been raised [a number of times] with the joint standing commission on intelligence to say it is a problem when the law is very clear that [the report] should be discussed between the IGI and the minister before moving to other structures,” Cele said.

“So I [wrote to the commissioner] to request that if he takes any action against the division [head]may I be given the opportunity to discuss the matter with the IGI first.

“I don’t think we saw eye to eye, instead it seemed like I was blocking [the move and] the case was brought to court and the court gave preference to the national commissioner.

†[The divisional head was then suspended]† I have received correspondence from the IGI [after I had said] this report was not discussed, but the answer was that the case was operational, so the IGI had the right to speak directly with the chief of operations of the police,” he continued.

Cele said the correspondence continued after he was informed that an acting chief of the crime intelligence department had been appointed.

“Think of the head [of crime intelligence] and top five officials were removed. l [agreed] Which [operational matters] be done by the national commissioner, but the regulations say I have to agree to the removal [or appointments] of that level [of police officials]†

ALSO READ: Cele to Unrest Inquiry: I Can’t Remember Seeing Top Agent Sitole in the ‘Right Places’

“My problem is that I didn’t agree with this shift and this acting [divisional head]† No one told me there was an acting head [of crime intelligence]†

“There was some correspondence to say if this can be explained how this happened and I was told a story that I didn’t understand even today that [this new head] did not act fully… he acted according to some parts of the law.”

“So instead of tackling these things [of me being briefed or receiving intelligence reports]was concerned with the question of what would be a bit irregular in terms of appointments of the head of [crime] intelligence,” he said.

However, the minister said he should have received reports of criminal intelligence regardless of the internal problems.

“Providing information about crime could still have happened. Those things didn’t stop the crime intelligence briefing. I’m sure a well-considered decision has been made not to cut [me]Cele added.

The minister further indicated that he did not receive the intelligence report warning of possible violence until December 3, 2021, the day he testified before the SAHRC.

sitole earlier told the commission that not all intelligence reports had been sent to Cele.

The police commissioner said at the time that an early warning report had been received about the July riots, but there was no need to send the report to the minister.

July riot reports

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa authorized the publication of the report on the July riots.

In the 154-page report, a panel of experts chaired by Professor Sandy Africa criticized the government’s response to the riots.

“Many reasons have been put forward for this failure, but in the end the answer remains that they have not done the necessary to protect life, limb and property. However, the executive branch also bears some of the blame and must take responsibility for the loss of leadership,” the report reads.

The report shows that the response of the police and intelligence services to the unrest was insufficient and inadequate.

“The police failed to stop the riots and looting in July 2021. The reasons for this failure are complex and sometimes not on their part. In some cases, they were not given information on which to plan operations.”

The panel too expressed concern about Cele and Sitole’s relationship.

READ MORE: Cele gives sneak peek into icy relations with top agent Sitole

It said disagreements between the minister and the commissioner over whether the police were doing enough to prevent the violence indicated that there was no agreement on the capacity of the police “at the very top”.

In short, the Minister and the National Commissioner are far apart in their interpretation of how the events of July could have been managed, if at all.

“This is a concern because it reduces the grounds for consensus within the senior police leadership about what needs to be corrected in the future, and who should be held responsible for failing to prevent the loss of life and destruction. of properties that have taken place,” the report reads.

“The police failure must also be seen against the background of the police minister who clearly states in his speech that the suspension of six criminal intelligence officers by the national commissioner has weakened that division,” it continued.

Intelligence reports

Cele and former State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo also disagreed on whether Saps was provided with intelligence reports about the riots.

According to the report on the July riots, Dlodlo has asked the senior leadership of the SSA to look into mounting tensions after the ConCourt’s make a statement about Zuma.

The report also notes that the SSA has twice issued a series of reports warning of the potential unrest.

“Within the Saps command structure there appears to have been no direct line for submitting intelligence reports to the Minister of Police.

READ MORE: ‘Show public Dlodlo’s intelligence report in SA riots,’ says DA

“The minister said he had not received an intelligence report from the National Commissioner of the Saps or the Division Commissioner: Crime Intelligence as of at least December 2020.”

The The Vanir-exodus Previously reported that between July 9 and July 12, the crime intelligence department sent out a number of “early warning” reports by email regarding the possibility of violence.

The email was then copied to Sitole, the Hawks and the National Joint Operational Center (NATJOC), among other police departments, by a non-commissioned officer who wrote the email.

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