Riah Phiyega comes out guns blazing

2013-11-05 15:26

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Embattled national police commissioner Riah Phiyega has sent out a clear message to her detractors that those who have charged her with defeating the ends of justice won’t win.

Phiyega received a resounding welcome at police union Popcru’s central executive committee meeting in Pretoria today, where she addressed the union’s shop stewards.

Despite denying that a letter she had sent to police top brass last week was not a call for support, Phiyega told Popcru that she needed the union’s help – not regarding the investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), but assistance in the fight against crime.

“Before they go write articles about me coming here to ask Popcru for help with the Ipid investigation, let me say, yes, I am here because I need your help. I need your help in the fight against our common enemy, crime,” she said.

She described the charges – laid against her by the police crime intelligence unit for allegedly tipping off Western Cape police boss Arno Lamoer that he was being investigated – as an attempt to silence her and “de-focus” the SA Police Service (SAPS) management from transforming the police service.

“I am under very serious onslaught that serves to defocus us from what we do. But asijiki [we’re not turning back]. Our agenda is larger than that of our detractors,” said Phiyega.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the allegations emerged two weeks ago, Phiyega deviated from her prepared speech to send a message that nothing would distract her from transforming the police.

The charges were laid soon after Phiyega had suspended acting crime intelligence head Chris Ngcobo for discrepancies about his matric qualification.

She said she would talk about the Ipid probe when the time was right.

“I am a law-abiding citizen. When the time comes, I will give my representation to Ipid when the time to do so comes, but let us not allow the investigation to make us lose focus. Our mandate is to prevent, combat and investigate crime. Let us remain focused on that,” said Phiyega.

She said many South Africans took the country’s “stability for granted”, forgetting the hard work the men and women in blue put in every day.

“We’re sitting here and we’re not expecting people to come in with AK47s and Makarovs,” said Phiyega, describing the country’s stability.

The police’s first major task next year was to ensure a peaceful general election, said Phiyega.

“I believe the upcoming year will be a year where as a collective we will focus on the structured aspects of policing that must translate into a service that upholds and protects the fundamental rights of all people as we execute our mandates in accordance with the constitution and the needs of the community,” she said.

There was elation when Phiyega announced that police officers who were promoted from Level 3 to Level 5 in 2011 but their salaries were not upgraded, would receive their increases by Christmas.

She said part of the R900 million the police received in Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s medium-term expenditure framework budget would be used to pay the nearly 40 000 affected SAPS members.

“That is why I welcomed the march you organised some few months ago. I want to reiterate what I said then that we are an organisation which honours agreements it has entered into.

“But as you may be aware, the minister of finance announced recently that funds have been made available for SAPS. The process of developing various options to address some of the issues you raised is nearly complete and I will respond in writing before the end of November,” said Phiyega.

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