Give me 12 months – top cop

2012-06-14 11:42

The country’s newly appointed top cop, General Mangwashi Phiyega, wants the men and women in blue and the public to be less critical of her appointment and judge her performance in the next twelve months.

Phiyega, popularly known as Riah, addressed the media in Pretoria today where she faced tough questions about her new role.

She was accompanied by outgoing acting commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and deputy police commissioner Maggie Sotyu.

Phiyega (54), from Limpopo, was appointed by President Jacob Zuma earlier this week following the axing of Bheki Cele.

She said she had heard Cele’s advice on the importance of working closer with police on the ground “loud and clear”.

Phiyega also said she was still unsure of whether concerns raised in Parliament by Mkhwanazi regarding political interference in police matters had any merit.

She questioned whether it was political involvement in police matters or interference and asked the public to give her three months to determine this.

“We need to debate and talk about whether are we confused. With experience I will be in a better position to tell you whether (that is the case),” said Phiyega.

She would not be drawn on the damning report of the board of inquiry into Cele’s fitness to hold office, which recommended that Cele be fired.

“It will be very dangerous for me to articulate (on the report),” said Phiyega.

She said she would focus on improving the confidence, brand and pride within the police force.

Phiyega added that restoring public trust within the SAPS would be one of her major priorities.

“I’m totally humbled by the invitation to serve. I’ve learnt earlier in life that to be given an opportunity to serve is something you must cherish. It means somebody saw something in you that you didn’t see yourself,” said Phiyega.

She said she would work closely with the SA Police Union, which had questioned her ability to turn around the police force as she isn’t a career police officer.

The former deputy chairperson of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, Phiyega said she was bringing a lot of experience which would assist her in her duties.

“I do believe that I’ve got something to give. I’ve had quite an illustrious career. I’m bringing a lot of experience with me,” said Phiyega confidently.

She said her previous experience in the corporate and government sector would make up for anything that she lacked in doing her job.

“What experience do I lack? I have never been a police (officer), you don’t need to be a drunkard to own a bottle store. Using that principle I do believe that ... they (police management) can hold my hand ... I am bringing in some experience,” said Phiyega.

She asked that she be afforded an opportunity to familiarise herself with the policing environment before tackling operational questions about the embattled police crime intelligence unit and police brutality.

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