Cele lays into Phiyega

2015-04-23 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — The SA Police Service is bleeding under current national commissioner Riah Phiyega, her predecessor Bheki Cele has said.

“Reversals that are in the police are her [fault],” he told News24.

“It’s reversals and lies.”

Cele said, under Phiyega, more and more officers were leaving the police force. He was told that 300 resigned last month.

“They leave from the top to the bottom. They leave that organisation. That organisation bleeds.”

Cele said he was agitated on Sunday morning when he saw a letter Phiyega had written to City Press’s Mondli ­Makhanya regarding the SAPS.

“She says the nation must remember how gigantic the problems she found in the police was. That’s nonsense she’s speaking. She found a highly efficient organisation.”

In response to Cele’s comments, Phiyega said it was now her turn to manage the SAPS and that she had a specific mandate, which was to transform, professionalise and build a sustainable platform for the police.

“He must accept that the SAPS is in the hands of new leadership.

“He must accept that he no longer holds the baton,” she said.

Phiyega referred to Cele’s parting shots when he was removed as police commissioner, when he wished the new commissioner the best of luck and reminded people that “she did not steal my job. She answered the same call I did three years ago.”

“Maybe he should stick to this, because I think this was and still is an excellent parting shot for a person who reckons with his journey, a person who marches on to his new assignment and destiny,” she said.

Cele detailed the progress he claims to have made in improving the police when he was in charge. Under him people understood that if they committed a crime they would be arrested, he said.

He also criticised the police’s handling of high-profile cases such as soccer star Senzo Meyiwa’s murder on October 26, 2014. “You come with a high-profile case like Senzo’s and you botch it. And you think South Africans can trust you? This organisation cannot mess up with high-profile cases.”

He added that since 1994 the murder rate had never increased, except for last year.

The former commissioner said that under him there were no cash heists, mall attacks or bank robberies, and that the number of hijackings and house robberies had decreased.

“At one point this Gauteng was blue [because of police presence] … these things are no longer there.

“We created a special team of 25 people in Gauteng. Their job was … to track the criminals we want. We trained them heavily. That has been dismantled. It’s gone.”

Cele said the core function of the police service was to ensure South Africans were safe, but this was not the case presently. Criminals nowadays were becoming daring and could do as they wished because the SAPS management were fighting each other.

Cele said he understood that although he was police commissioner he was not a trained officer who had served, which was why he surrounded himself with people who had and who could guide him.

“Everybody that she found there she … chased away. She chased away highly, highly capable people. That woman hates efficiency. She hates efficiency in the police.”

Cele said Phiyega lied on a number of occasions and he confronted her at the funeral of former police commissioner and convicted fraudster Jackie Selebi on January 31.

At the funeral Phiyega spoke about contributions made by Selebi and other former commissioners, but failed to speak about Cele and his contributions. “I went to Phiyega and asked her why she is lying. I asked her … ‘why do you lie? You spoke about commissioner [George] Fivaz, commissioner Selebi, and yourself’.”

Cele was upset that Phiyega had thanked Selebi for starting Duty Calls, an SAPS television programme which he had commissioned and negotiated with the head of SABC to broadcast.

“I asked her ‘why do you want to keep quiet?’ It’s not the first time she lied.”

Phiyega said no amount of ­disparagement was going to change her resolve to make a contribution to the Saps. “My advice to Bheki Cele is to continue walking as his contribution to the SAPS is on the scroll and was ­noticed.”

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