Did Cele get it wrong? General Sitole says he met Malema after ‘serious threats’

The National Commissioner of Police General Khehla Sitole said he was shocked by the allegations made by Police Minister Bheki Cele, who accused the top cop of plotting to remove him from office with EFF leader Julius Malema, at the SONA debate on Monday, 14 February.


Cele shouted at Malema from the podium, as he delivered his speech on Monday, and claimed the EFF leader met with Sitole on 10 December 2020 to plot on his downfall.

“I’m not going to go back to the 10th of December 2020, where there was a meeting between yourself and the national commissioner and the plan and the plot was hashed that I must be chased,” said the police minister.

Malema immediately hit back and denied meeting Sitole on that day and challenged the minister to repeat the claim in the street where they wouldn’t be bound by the rules of Parliament.

“I’ve never met anyone on the 10th of December. If he is truthful about it, let him repeat it outside,” said Malema.

General Sitole issued his response on 15 February. In a statement, he said he learnt about Cele’s allegations with shock and dismay.

However, he went on to confirm that he had met Malema in 2020 for entirely different reasons.

Sitole’s spokesperson, Brigadier Vish Naidoo, said the Deputy Minister of Police Cassel Mathale asked the police commissioner to meet with Malema to address threats against the EFF leader.

“Mr Malema met with the National Commissioner and the Head of Protection and Security Services, Lieutenant General Sam Shitlabane in 2020 at the Tshwane Training Academy.

“The meeting was solely about the alleged threats against Mr Malema and nothing else to which feedback was provided to the Deputy Minister,” said Naidoo.

Sitole said he was under the impression that Cele was aware of the content of the meeting and that his deputy had called it.

The police commissioner also wished to confirm that he had attended SONA on 10 February after Cele indicated that he did not in a television interview on the 11th.

“The National Commissioner is invited by the President as it is customary to do so in each SONA. Same was done this year and the National Commissioner attended the SONA of 2022. The records of parliament will confirm the National Commissioner’s attendance,” said Naidoo.

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