Enough is enough: Zuma reads riot act to police officers leaking security information

2012-06-13 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has laid down the law to the police top brass and signalled that enough is enough.

The president said that in the past few weeks the country had witnessed “a disappointing spectacle of police officers jeopardising state security by placing information in the public domain, in contravention of their oath of office”.

“This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated if the fight against crime is to continue being effective,” he told a media briefing.

He had just officially announced the country’s worst-kept secret yesterday, that he had in fact fired Bheki Cele, a week after he had dismissed him in writing.

Zuma went a step further to express concern about the police’s infighting, including in the courts.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Cele’s successor, Riah Phiyega, would assist his administration in dealing with these matters, he said.

Zuma said he had met Mthethwa about what needed to be corrected immediately within the SA Police Service so that it could continue “its excellent record of fighting crime”.

“These include management and financial systems as well as the breaches of information security within the establishment, which has unfortunately become common.”

Zuma thanked Cele, saying his erstwhile ally still had a lot to contribute to the country given his experience and commitment “to making South Africa a better place for all each day”.

He said Cele had been appointed in August 2009 and was given a clear brief to take the war to the criminals and make South Africans safer.

“The crime statistics indicate that the approach has worked.”

Zuma extended his “personal gratitude to General Cele for the unquestionable commitment to his work as national commissioner”.

“Leading from the front, he brought much-needed passion, energy, expertise and focus that boosted the morale of the police leading to improved productivity and a visible reduction in crime levels.”

However, the reports of the Public Protector and that of the Moloi board of inquiry indicated “ deficiencies administratively, and in particular in relation to Cele’s duties as an accounting officer”.

This meant that he had to remove him from office.

Zuma also thanked acting police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi for holding the fort.

He said he believed that Phiyega would bring a wealth of experience to the job as a senior executive who understood the responsibility of government in the fight against crime and the duties imposed in dealing with state assets.

“I have every confidence that she will show leadership and acquit herself well as national commissioner.”

Meanwhile, Cele is set to announce later today that he will seek a judicial review of the Moloi board of inquiry that found him unfit to hold office.

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