Police top brass don't all have security clearance, parliament hears

13 March 2019 - 14:02 By THABO MOKONE
Parliament, in Cape Town. File photo.
Parliament, in Cape Town. File photo.
Image: Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images

Several members in the higher echelons of the SAPS have been denied security clearance certificates to operate at that level, while others did not bother to apply when asked to do so by their bosses.

This was disclosed by national police commissioner Gen Khehla Sithole and his crime intelligence chief Peter Jacobs during a meeting in parliament with the police portfolio committee on Wednesday.

Jacobs told MPs that among the 33 high-ranking police lieutenant-generals, six were operating with expired security clearances in the current financial year.

In the rank of major-generals, comprising of 183 senior police officers, five have had their security clearance applications denied and another seven were expired, while five others did not file their applications as required.

Jacobs said the applications of 53 more major-generals were still being processed.

Next on the chain of command, where 680 brigadiers call the shots, 13 security clearance applications were rejected and 19 more had expired, while 41 other senior managers did not file their applications.

A further 316 vetting applications from brigadiers were also being processed, said Jacobs.

Jacobs did not disclose the reasons for the declined applications - for security reasons and also because an appeal process was yet to unfold within the SAPS.

The vetting of SAPS senior managers is being conducted as part of government efforts to tackle corruption and other governance failures that have plagued the police service in the past few years.

MPs have called for disciplinary action to be taken against senior managers who ignored Sithole's orders about applications for security clearances.

Sithole said one of the challenges in this regard was the capacity to conduct security vetting in an organisation employing around 192,000 staff members.

The police commissioner said another problem was the fact that obtaining a security clearance certificate had not been a compulsory requirement for senior positions, which they would now change.

"The future we're moving to, we want to link vetting with employment contracts so that if there's any change of the vetting status then it means we must revoke the employment contract," said Sithole.

"The beefing up of the vetting capacity has been prioritised. It's at the centre of the resource management strategy of the organisation."

Turning to lifestyle audits, Jacobs said these had been conducted on almost 10,000 SAPS members. Of those who had been audited, he said 99.15% "have no adverse findings", with only 0.85% being "flagged for further validation to determine veracity of findings".


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