Police unit in crisis

2013-10-23 00:00

This is the view of Dr Johan Burger, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), yesterday after police commissioner General Riah Phiyega summarily and unexpectedly suspended Major-General Chris Ngcobo, the acting head of the unit.

“If the acting head is also suspended, one has to ask what is next?” Burger said.

“Basically the whole management of the crime intelligence unit have either been suspended or took retirement or were transferred. Almost nothing is left of the unit. Ngcobo’s suspension is just the cherry on top.

“Crime intelligence is in a total crisis and it may be better if they close the unit and build something better in its stead from the ground up.”

Phiyega said Ngcobo was suspended because of contradictions in his qualifications.

It is not known what these contradictions are, but Phiyega said Ngcobo could not explain them, which was why criminal and disciplinary steps have been taken against him.

She said in a statement she had in several instances endeavoured to steer the police along a new road, one with integrity as the signboard, and against this background it was with extreme disappointment that she had to announce Ngcobo’s suspension.

Ngcobo’s top security clearance was also suspended with immediate effect.

Ngcobo was appointed as acting head in June last year after the contentious Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli was suspended as head of the crime intelligence unit.

Burger, however, said any contradictions in Ngcobo’s qualifications should have been picked up during the security clearance processes that accompanied his appointment.

“For such a sensitive appointment they should have had his qualifications checked the moment he submitted them.

“How can they, who are after all crime intelligence, miss something like this? It raises a lot of questions.”

Burger said to verify qualifications it is no longer necessary to ask for original certificates, as employers can contact the relevant institutions to check the person did gain a claimed qualification.

He said one positive to have emerged from the issue is that Phiyega seems committed to keeping her promise to check the background, ability and qualifications of the police’s top management.

Phiyega has appointed Major-General Bongiwe Zulu, who has 11 years’ police experience including three years as a brigadier in crime intelligence, as the new acting head of crime intelligence.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said Ngcobo’s appointment had been yet another mistake by Phiyega, who will have to inform Parliament of the process to appoint Zulu.

Burger said there is no trust left in the abilities of the police’s crime intelligence.

“I think not even the police themselves have any trust in the unit, while crime intelligence should be the backbone of the police. The unit simply cannot fulfill its mandate and is a blot on the police’s reputation.”

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