A dangerous snake in the grass is trying to destabilise the SAPS, with help from right-wing NGOs and other individuals, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko told Parliament's police committee Wednesday.
There were a number of "sinister attempts" to tarnish the police's work, which was concerning but not surprising, Nhleko told the committee.
He was briefing the committee on the breakdown of his relationship with Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride, but instead spoke of an "orchestrated attempt" to destabilise the police.
People were jostling for power and influence, Nhleko said. If suspended national commissioner Riah Phiyega was declared unfit to hold office, following the Claassen inquiry, people were looking to fill the post, he explained.
"Some of us stand a chance to occupy that position, but standing that good chance, some of us embark on very silly and dubious activities to discredit and rubbish certain things," he said.
The efforts to destabilise the SAPS were very interesting, he said, and included the reports that he had forced the civil secretariat to pay R30-million to his partner.
Only R384 000 had been paid to his partner, which had been signed off on before he took up his post in the police ministry, Nhleko said.
These efforts were complex and he said it would not be correct to identify any individuals.
ANC MP Phindile Mmola said the undermining of the SAPS' leadership was in the interests of criminal syndicates and those who wanted to harm the trust between the country's citizens and police.
ANC MP Livhuhani Mabija questioned the motives behind the efforts to destabilise the SAPS.
"There is a very dangerous serpent under the grass that is causing all the havoc. Because we have recently seen that there are efforts to undermine the unity of the law enforcement institutions by attacks on the integrity of the minister and acting national commissioner," she said.
"Who is this serpent under the grass? And what is the purpose thereof? It's like there is no leader in this ministry that will be doing things correctly."
The ministry was doing exactly what it was meant to be doing, she said.
ANC MP Angie Molebatsi said right-wing NGOs and foreign citizens were targeting the leadership of SAPS in reports and emails. She asked whether it was part of a campaign, or just a coincidence.
Nhleko said if someone wanted to undermine democracy, they started with the SAPS. There were "dirty tricks" afoot, he said. Again, he would not mention names.
"I am not going to be able to identify and characterise the serpent," he said, as they still had to investigate.
"Is the serpent a puff adder? Can you say?" FF Plus MP Petrus Groenewald joked.
Nhleko warned the committee that more was coming, including allegations that the drugs police were confiscating were not being declared.
There would be more allegations regarding his involvement with a "person of influence".
"We are not angels. We do what we can in the space we are given," he told the committee.