Phiyega a huge disappointment - ISS

2017-06-12 19:50
Riah Phiyega. (Nasief Manie, Netwerk24)

Riah Phiyega. (Nasief Manie, Netwerk24)

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A look back at Phiyega's time in office

2017-06-12 12:02

Monday marks suspended police commissioner Riah Phiyega's last day in office. Watch.WATCH

Johannesburg - Former national police commissioner Riah Phiyega was a huge disappointment, Institute for Security Studies senior researcher Johan Burger said on Monday.

Her lack of policing experience was one of her biggest problems, he said, reflecting on her five-year term, which began in June 2012 and ended on Saturday.

Before being appointed police commissioner, she was a group executive at Absa and Transnet.

Repeated warnings about appointing non-police staff to the position were ignored, Burger said. Not only did she fail, she also caused much damage to policing.

"When she was appointed, the minister at the time said she was bringing a wealth of management experience to policing," said Burger.

READ The Riah end: Suspended Phiyega completes term as police boss

'Unthinkable'

Phiyega replaced Bheki Cele. He was fired in 2012 after the Moloi board of inquiry found him guilty of gross misconduct in his dealing with a lease for police office space.

Cele replaced Jackie Selebi who was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 15 years' jail in August 2010. Selebi died on January 23, 2015 at the age of 64, while out on medical parole.

Burger said one of the biggest mistakes Phiyega made was to compliment officers involved in the shooting of 34 miners during a strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West, in August 2012.

"That is unthinkable. It was the most irresponsible thing, even if you believed that your policemen acted lawfully and in self-defence. The mere fact so many people were killed and so many were wounded, it is a massive tragic thing.

"As police commissioner I would expect you to show shock and say whatever happened there will have to be properly investigated and tell those officers that it is a tragic thing that has happened."

Burger said she misled the Farlam commission of inquiry, which investigated the Marikana violence.

She hid a decision to implement the "tactical option", taken at a meeting of senior police the day before the shooting on August 16 2012.

In addition, she failed to discipline former police crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli, despite a court ruling instructing her to do so.

Transparent appointment

Phiyega closed ranks and refused to co-operate with organisations like the ISS.

"When Bheki Cele came, we had an open relationship with the police. Even when we were critical of the police, he always encouraged members to continue working with the police."

When Phiyega was suspended on full pay in October 2015, her replacement Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane introduced some welcome changes.

He allowed the ISS access to crime statistics three days before they were released to the public, giving the organisation more time to analyse them, Burger said.

Burger called for the appointment of a police commissioner to be done transparently and in consultation with other interested parties.

This would make it difficult for the president to manipulate the process. At the moment, only the president was responsible for appointing a commissioner.

"By the time that that person is appointed it is too late to come forward with information that can get them disqualified."

Ideally, the best candidate should be from the police's ranks. They should have suitable policing experience, be qualified, and have integrity. Their priority should be the Constitution and the people of South Africa, Burger argued.

Read more on:    police  |  iss  |  riah phiyega  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  marikana massacre

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