Coincidence that ‘death squad’ arrests happened on my watch, says new top cop

2012-06-23 00:00

NEW national police commissioner Mangwashi “Riah” Phiyega said the arrest of 20 members of Durban’s alleged “execution squad” only days after her appointment, was pure coincidence.

Phiyega was speaking in Durban yesterday after a quarterly meeting between Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and safety and security MECs from around the country.

Addressing the media, the country’s first female national police commissioner, said the investigation into the Organised Crime Unit based at Cato Manor had been going on for a long time.

Mthethwa said the main priority of the South African Police Service (SAPS), was to ensure that the public was safe “even when some of their colleagues find themselves on the wrong side of the law”.

He also dispelled the notion that there had been animosity between the Hawks and the SAPS.

“They are all police and there has always been co-operation,” said Mthethwa. “If such a thing [animosity] would arise, we would intervene.”

Phiyega said: “This is an unfortunate observation. We all have a common purpose.”

Welcoming Phiyega, Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko said Phiyega would not be lonely in ensuring that South Africans are safe.

“We appreciate the appointment of a female commissioner,” she said, adding that Phiyega had also spoken about focusing on issues that affected women.

Earlier, Mthethwa said it was the first time that a commissioner had attended the meeting of the minister and MECs.

“In the eight days that she has been in office, she has already started working, dealing with the many issues affecting the police force,” he said.

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