Phiyega chided police leadership for 'cowering under tables', minutes reveal

2015-10-16 21:30
National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega.

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega. (Deaan Vivier/Foto24)

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Cape Town - Suspended national commissioner Riah Phiyega told the SAPS Board of Commissioners at a meeting in July that their "silence was deafening" and that they were "cowering under the tables" at a time when they should have been speaking out.

This is according to transcripts of a July meeting.

The transcripts fly in the face of earlier statements by the board who in August faced the police committee in parliament and insisted that Phiyega had not been involved in their decision to issue a statement in support of her. They also said at the time that the meeting had nothing to do with the Farlam Commission report on Marikana.

But the transcripts tell a different story.

In it, Phiyega is quoted as telling the board, "Your silence is deafening. Leadership is cowering under the tables at a time where - and I'm not saying fight the report - at a time where our opinion matters, our opinion is not anywhere."

The board later issued a collective statement in August, expressing serious concern over what they saw as an unfair and negative attitude towards Phiyega.

Presenting an overview of the transcripts to the police committee on Friday, parliament content advisor Irvin Kinnes told the committee that the transcripts painted a different picture to what the commissioners told the members of parliament earlier.

In the transcripts, the commissioners in the meeting, chaired by Phiyega, discuss the Farlam report and its findings. 

While Phiyega does not issue a directive for the commissioners to write the statement, she does encourage them to speak up. 

No substance

"I want the leadership to actually say, this is our call and what are you going to do for these members and how are we going to do it in a manner that doesn't show that we are undermining whatever is out there? But we are standing for what we believe we stood for...  I’m not saying respond to, but speak up."

She also tells the meeting that she had no reason to give testimony at the commission.

"And I will tell you that in 64 days I had no reason to stand up there and give testimony... When everybody was cowering and crawling under the table and when our members were exposed there, I thought I'd give leadership and show guidance that somebody can stand there.

"I have no reason to be there for 21 days. In fact, I don't even know why that commission kept me there for 21 days. You can read that transcript up and down... there's nothing material there."

The police committee will start analysing the content of the minutes and transcripts on Wednesday October 21.

The committee started its inquiry on Friday into the circumstances that saw the board and SAPS top management issue a media statement in support of Phiyega.

Read more on:    saps  |  riah phiyega

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