Time for the security cluster clowns to go

Johannesburg – The testimony presented at the SA Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) hearings into the July unrest has, among many ugly things, exposed serious cracks and the shambolic state of affairs within the SA Police Service and the country’s security cluster as a whole.

It is not that South Africans did not know about this state of affairs anyway.

We knew from the very moment in July that something was wrong when Police Minister Bheki Cele and Intelligence Minister Ayanda Dlodlo began to butt heads over who was to be blamed for the mayhem, and as former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula added further confusion when she contradicted the president, who had said the unrest was a failed attempted insurrection.

South Africans could be excused for describing these public contradictions and bad blood among our security mandarins as a comedy or a circus had the situation under the SAHRC microscope not been so serious.

Taking the witness stand this week, KwaZulu-Natal provincial police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi pulled no punches, describing Mapisa Nqakula as a liar after the latter had equally painted him in unflattering colours before the commission.

We had watched in utter astonishment earlier during her testimony as Mapisa-Nqakula described how Mkhwanazi’s “immaturity” and “ego” had deprived the army of critical information during the unrest.

Mapisa-Nqakula also told of how the situation began to be contained only after Mkhwanazi went on leave.

When it was his turn to provide his version of events, Mkhwanazi lashed out, further fuelling our apprehensions about the stability within South Africa’s security establishment.

Mkhwanazi said Mapisa-Nqakula had misled the nation about the number of soldiers deployed on the ground in KwaZulu-Natal.

Then came Cele whose rocky working relationship with national police commissioner Khehla Sitole is a matter of public record.

Probably trying to reinforce the perception of police incompetence under Sitole, Cele told the commission that Sitole was nowhere to be seen when South Africa was under fire.

Contradicting Sitole’s earlier testimony, Cele told the commission on its last day that there was enough money in the SAPS crime intelligence unit despite claims that the unit was underfunded.

South Africans deserve better than the twaddle dished up at the commission.

In any sound democratic governance, the last day of the commission’s sitting in KZN should also have been the last day of Cele in office and his entire management team, who appeared before the inquiry.

Cele and his team have until now, for instance, not explained what happened to the alleged 12 unnamed instigators who were alleged to be behind the unrest and why they have thus far not been arrested .

It was obviously a lie indicative of a security machinery that has been fiddling while Rome was burning.

As a matter of urgency, South Africa’s security cluster needs a total overhaul if this circus has to come to an end. We have had enough of it.

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