New top cop leapfrogged 30 to 40 seniors

2011-10-30 15:30
Johannesburg - Former top cops have expressed surprise at the appointment of Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi as acting national police chief, citing his lack of managerial experience.

President Jacob Zuma appointed Mkhwanazi after suspending General Bheki Cele for charges relating to his involvement in the procurement of two police buildings.

Retired ace detective Bushie Engelbrecht said Zuma skipped more than 20 more senior generals who could have been appointed.

“Mkhwanazi definitely does not have the management experience. Maybe the president wants to get rid of dead wood,” he said.

Mkhwanazi, 38, was still a major general on Monday, but as criticism mounted over his junior status Zuma silently promoted him to lieutenant general on Wednesday.

Former national police commissioner George Fivaz said normal practice was to consider the line of seniority in the police. “Maybe the President did and still found Mkhwanazi to be better suited.”


Engelbrecht, who served with many senior officers until his retirement last year, said he hoped police management would support Mkhwanazi.

Two other senior police sources said they were afraid that Mkhwanazi would be the biggest loser in his sudden elevation.

“The police is a very bureaucratic institution. Age and experience weigh heavy. What must the 30 to 40 officers who he jumped [in rank] be feeling now?” asked one source.

Both agreed that they were “shocked” and “astonished” at ­Zuma’s choice to lead the police.

“He is undoubtedly talented, but he is still young. He is a boy. What will happen if the pressure is too much?” said one source.

Mkhwanazi was identified a few years ago as a young police officer who should be groomed for leadership.

He rose through task force ranks and was promoted this year to the rank of major-general, heading the police’s operational services, which include public order ­policing units.

“He is a qualified policeman, but has very few management skills. He knows nothing about finances and managing structures. This [appointment] could actually be to his disadvantage,” said a senior police source.

Fivaz and Engelbrecht both agree it is high time a police chief was appointed from within the ranks of the police.

Cele hailed

“I still believe if you want to be rugby captain then you had to have been a good rugby player,” Engelbrecht said.

Despite being suspended for suspicious behaviour, Cele was hailed as one of the best police chiefs the country has seen.

Fivaz described Cele as a hard-working, very committed man who has no ill will.

“Many see him as a cowboy because he sometimes made weird statements, but I think he has realised that too.”

Engelbrecht has known and worked with Cele since the early 90s when KwaZulu-Natal was a hotbed of political violence.

“He is very disciplined, stood by his officers and really made an impact on the police force in the past two years. I fully supported his move to bring back the old military ranks because the police has a para-military role and needs to be disciplined.”


Frans Cronjé, deputy chief executive of the South African Institute of Race Relations, said Cele’s suspension was “tragic” because he was on the right path to “fix” the police.

“A few years ago police officers looked like skollies. Today Cele’s ‘stomach in, chest out’ refrain has paid off. He also brought back many of the specialist units such as child protection and was responsible for the enormous security success of the World Cup.

“The crime rate has been dropping since 2003, but the drop has escalated during his two years in office,” Cronjé said.

Cronjé said if Cele had not put himself in the position that led to his suspension, he could have been the best commissioner since 1994.

Read more on:    police  |  sairr  |  george fivaz  |  bheki cele  |  nhlanhla mkhwanazi  |  police lease saga  |  corruption  |  tenders

Road deaths on the rise

2014-12-22 23:39

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!


I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go! - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


It is hard to keep some sort of balance when the natural rhythm has flown out the window. The best thing to do is try not to more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.