Khomotso Phahlane has joined a list of police commissioners who left the office with a cloud hanging over their heads.
Phahlane was removed from his post on Thursday after a protracted fight with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), which is currently investigating him for corruption and defeating ends of justice.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Thursday that President Jacob Zuma had relieved Lieutenant-General Phahlane from his position as acting national police commissioner.
“We wish to thank the president for his wisdom and decisive action in this regard,” said Mbalula.
“There are clearly serious allegations of misconduct on the part of Phahlane that also impact on his fitness to hold office as the acting national police commissioner,” Mbalula said.
Mbalula said the allegations raise questions of conduct that would be inconsistent with expectations that attend those who hold leadership in our police service, the South African Police Service.
“I am duty bound to make it clear that Phahlane has a right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. The allegations levelled are yet to be tested in a court of law,” he said.
The announcement came after Ipid head Robert McBride asked both the minister and Zuma to suspend Phahlane pending an investigation into several allegations against him.
The term of the current national police commissioner, General Riah Phiyega, comes to an end on June 10.
Zuma has appointed Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba as Phahlane’s replacement in the acting position.
Ordinarily Phahlane would then revert back to his position of forensic services divisional commissioner.
Mbalula said: “I have made a determination that the enormous task I am soon to set out for the forensic services towards the full professionalisation of the police to achieve the best outcomes in the fight against crime and to secure our national security integrity require that the police are fully focused on the job at hand.”
Mbalula said he had also asked Phahlane to explain why he should not be suspended from his previous position as well.