Don’t play the woman card

2013-03-24 10:00

It was one of those moments when you wished that someone could have simply stomped on National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega’s foot.

Her explosion before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry – where she claimed that she was being targeted because she was a woman – was unnecessary and unfair.

It is likely to cause her more harm than good.

It is tough being the country’s top police officer.

It gets tougher when police under your command shoot and kill 34 striking mine workers in what has become the country’s first state-caused massacre since democracy.

Just to prove that it is not any easier if you are a man, Phiyega’s predecessors, whom she incorrectly argued had not faced scrutiny as close as she does, were both disgraced national police commissioners.

Jackie Selebi was jailed for accepting bribes from a murderer and drug dealer, while Bheki Cele was fired after the Public Protector found that he irregularly and negligently allowed a multimillion-rand lease of a police building.

The problem with Phiyega’s comments are not just that she is wrong on the facts.

By playing the woman card, Phiyega has contributed to potentially making this often legitimate response unavailable for female leaders the next time patriarchy rears its ugly head.

The glass ceiling is often too low for many women.

They often need to exert extra effort to get the same recognition as men.

It is worse in traditionally male roles.

Phiyega’s ascension to this top job was therefore an important victory for women.

As is the case in many sectors, the police force is a macho space.

She brought with her a much-needed soft power and corporate world rigour.

Whatever stress she might face, Phiyega’s historic role means she has a duty to make sure she doesn’t take the ­hard-fought women’s struggle for recognition in the workplace down with her.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Junior Chef

Century City
Pro Placements Recruitment Agency
R8 000 - R9 000 Per Month

Graphic Designer

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Creative Sourcing
R7 000 - R9 000 Per Month

CSR Inbound

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
O'Brien Recruitment
R14 000 - R16 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

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.