No change to terms of reference for Phiyega inquiry 'a slap in the face'

2015-11-22 17:06
National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega.

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega. (Deaan Vivier/Foto24)

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Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance has rejected President Jacob Zuma's decision not to widen the terms of reference for the inquiry into allegations of misconduct against suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega. 

"It is a slap in the face for the millions of South Africans who want real accountability for her dismal performance," DA MP Zakhele Mbhele said in a statement on Sunday. 

He said the terms of reference had to include other allegations against her, including that she is allegedly still interfering in the operational management of the police service despite being suspended. 

The presidency said on Friday that Zuma "has not amended the terms of reference of the Board of Inquiry into the allegations of misconduct by... Phiyega and/or her capacity to execute official duties efficiently, arising from the Marikana Commission of Inquiry". 

"The presidency has received inquiries from media houses on whether the terms of reference had been amended to include new matters that have been brought into the public domain. The terms remain the same," it said. 

A ministerial reference group dealing with a host of concerns facing the police service laid the blame for most of the challenges solely at Phiyega's door.

She has been accused of perjury, fraud, misconduct and wasteful expenditure by the reference group, which was formed in September last year to look at some of the issues facing the police.

From demotions and wasteful expenditure to individual grievances, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko recently told Parliament that the reference group had found that Phiyega had committed criminal and procedural offences in her role as national commissioner.

Despite this, the presidency said the terms of reference for the inquiry into Phiyega's fitness to hold office would remain the same.

The Farlam Commission, headed by retired judge Ian Farlam, investigated the deaths of 44 people killed during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg, in August 2012.

Mbhele said the terms remaining  the same would mean that the inquiry would based solely on the recommendations of the Farlam Commission.

He said there was a wide range of issues that necessitated widening the inquiry’s terms of reference.

"Riah Phiyega’s failings go far beyond the tragedy of Marikana. She has directly contributed to the decline of the SAPS [SA Police Service] and compromised its ability to ensure that ordinary South Africans are safe and secure in their homes, workplaces and on the streets," he alleged.

 "President Zuma continues to disregard the safety needs of ordinary citizens by not dealing decisively and comprehensively with the leadership failure in the police service that is Riah Phiyega. Clearly their plea for a police service that is efficient and led by experienced and ethical senior management is another addition to the list of #ThingsZumaLaughsAt."

The hashtag #ThingsZumaLaughsAt emerged on social media following Zuma's question-and-answer session in Parliament on Thursday when the president's signature giggle raised the ire of some MPs.

According to the current terms of reference the inquiry would look into:

- Whether Phiyega, together with other leaders in the SA Police Service or alone, misled the Farlam Commission into the Marikana shooting regarding the decision to implement the "tactical option" taken the day before the fatal incident;

- The decision taken to implement the "tactical option" ought to have reasonably foreseen the tragic and catastrophic consequences which ensued;

- The remarks made by Phiyega at the SAPS parade on August 17, 2012 could have been understood as an unqualified endorsement of the police action therefore undermining, frustrating or otherwise impeding the work of the commission;

- The report prepared by Phiyega for Zuma on August 16, 2012 and the media statement the following day was deliberately amended to conceal the fact that there were two shooting incidents; misleading the public that all the deaths occurred at one scene because the SAPS were defending themselves;  and

- Whether Phiyega's testimony at the Farlam Commission was in keeping with her office and the discharge of her duties.

Read more on:    da  |  riah phiyega  |  politics

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