Police Minister Bheki Cele doesn’t drink his morning coffee with national commissioner Khehla Sitole, but their working relationship is just fine.
Cele delivered his budget vote speech to a virtual mini-plenary of the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon.
During the debate, EFF MP Henry Shembeni said Cele is “obsessed with inflating his ego” and is picking “unnecessary fights” with Sitole, rather than fighting crime.
“If you had any dignity left, you would resign, Mr Cele,” said Shembeni.
DA MP Okkie Terblanche urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to deal with the “conflict” between Cele and Sitole.
“They must focus on their own roles and responsibilities. The department’s credibility and performance are at stake,” he said.
“It’s time to up your game, Mr Minister.”
Responding to the debate, Cele said: “Unfortunately, honourable Shembeni and honourable Terblanche were in the police service. They should have done much better when they were there, rather than stand here [on] the mountain now and shout to the highest mountain when they did not do anything to improve the organisation.
“We work with the commissioner – definitely. We don’t drink coffee together, but we wake up in the morning, and we know we have a job. So, they should just hold their horses and stop. We know what we are doing, and we’ll continue to do our work from here.”
In recent months, Cele and Sitole have been locked in a power struggle.
They have butted heads over senior appointments and disciplinary action, including Sitole’s pursuit of misconduct charges against former Crime Intelligence head Peter Jacobs.
Cele recommended to Ramaphosa in February that he institute an inquiry into Sitole’s fitness for office.
When Cele briefed the media after his budget vote speech, Sitole sat alongside him.
Cele dedicated his budget vote speech to slain police officers.
“Chairperson, I want to reiterate the seriousness of the barbaric acts of the killing of police officers. This is one crime that must be elevated, challenged and highly publicised,” he said.
“In fact, there must be a national call for the perpetrators of this crime to be arrested and never see sunrise nor sunset. In the first three months of this year, 24 police officers were killed. Indeed there must be a national outcry.”