SAPU welcomes new SAPS acting commissioner

2017-06-01 22:42
Acting national police commissioner Lesetja Mothiba. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Acting national police commissioner Lesetja Mothiba. (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Johannesburg - The SA Police Union has welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s decision to appoint Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba as new acting national police commissioner.

Mothiba was a career police officer and the union had worked well with him in the past, SAPU general secretary Oscar Skommere said in a statement on Thursday.

The union asked Zuma to consider appointing a career police officer when suspended commissioner Riah Phiyega’s contract ends in July.

“The civilian commissioners have proved to be a total disaster. Now is the time for a career cop to lead the cops,” he said.

Zuma announced earlier on Thursday that he had appointed Mothiba as new acting national commissioner with immediate effect. He said the tenure of Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane ended on June 1.

He thanked Phahlane for leading the police and congratulated Mothiba.

Mothiba, who had more than 30 years of service as a police officer, had been serving as divisional head of management for the intervention unit. Prior to that, he had served as Gauteng provincial commissioner.

The position of national police commissioner had not been filled permanently since Phiyega’s appointment in June 2012.

Phahlane was appointed acting commissioner in October 2015, after Phiyega was suspended. He was previously divisional commissioner for forensic services.

Phiyega was appointed to the top position two months before the violence during a mineworkers’ strike at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana, North West. On August 16, 2012, police shot dead 34 strikers while trying to disperse and disarm them.

The Marikana Commission of Inquiry into the violence recommended that she face an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

Zuma suspended Phiyega on full pay in October 2015, pending the outcome of this inquiry. Chaired by Judge Cornelis Claassen, it found that she lied to the Marikana commission and was not fit to hold office. It recommended she be fired.

In January, Phiyega brought an application in the High Court in Pretoria to review and set aside the Claassen inquiry’s findings.

Phahlane also had a dark cloud hanging over his head. On May 16, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate told MPs that Phahlane should be suspended to prevent him interfering in IPID probes.

On May 25, IPID launched an urgent application before the High Court in Pretoria for an interdict to stop police officers facing IPID probes from investigating IPID officers.

This came after North West detectives facing allegations of torture charged the two officers investigating Phahlane for corruption and money laundering, with alleged crimes including fraud, extortion, and contravening the IPID Act.

IPID head Robert McBride accused Phahlane and another officer of intimidating IPID investigators looking into cases against Phahlane and other SAPS officers.

Phahlane had repeatedly maintained his innocence and claimed that private investigator Paul O’Sullivan had “captured” the police watchdog.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula told reporters shortly after Zuma’s announcement that Phahlane had to explain why he should not be suspended. He was facing serious allegations which affected his fitness to hold office, Mbalula said.

Read more on:    ipid  |  police  |  robert mcbride  |  riah phiyega  |  fikile mbalula  |  khomotso phahlane

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