Expert praises new acting police commissioner appointment

2017-06-02 15:32
Acting national police commissioner Lesetja Mothiba. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Acting national police commissioner Lesetja Mothiba. (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Cape Town - Newly appointed interim-acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba is not a surprising selection, an Institute for Security Studies expert has said.

"It is not a surprising appointment in that he has been with the police for 35 years and held very senior positions," ISS Crime and Justice Programme Head Gareth Newham said on Friday.

Newman said Mothiba was provincial commissioner for Gauteng as well as head of visible policing nationally.

"Recently, he has been part of the management intervention unit overseeing three different provinces. He has three provincial commissioners reporting to him. He is familiar with the policing environment from top to bottom."

Newman said he learnt of Mothiba's style of leadership when he was station commander at Alexandra Police Station in 2002.

"He is sort of a cop's cop almost. He knows his stuff and is serious about the job. He is hard working and has a no nonsense approach to things."

Newman said he was a good appointment for the interim position.

"He was part of the back to basics approach so he knows what's happening and what needs to happen."

READ: Zuma appoints new acting police boss to replace Phahlane

President appointment processes flawed

According to Newman, the controversial appointments to the national commissioner position had resulted in increased crime in SA.

Newman said that the post of national commissioner is the only post within police ranks that has no criteria on what is required.

"That allows the president to appoint any South African citizen over the age of 18 without a criminal record to take up the position. That is why we have had complete disasters up to now."

Newman said suspended national commissioner Riah Phiyega "hadn't done a day of policing in her life.

"And she knew absolutely nothing about how police operate; how they should operate and fight crime. She had none of the background expertise and she was made national commissioner."

He also bemoaned former national commissioner Bheki Cele who he said "was appointed to the position after being a provincial politician.

"That's why we have such a problem with these appointments: The president has unrestrained authority to appoint whoever they want."

Newman said Zuma previously appointed people who had a perceived loyalty to him.

"This is where the big weakness is: South Africans should not accept a situation where the president in a backroom secret meeting can choose whoever and that person becomes national commissioner."

Newman said Zuma appointments had "seriously damaged the ability of the SAPS to get on top of a serious rising crime rate.

"His approach to appointing a national commissioner has profoundly undermined public safety. It has weakened the police. That weakening has resulted in us suffering."

Newman said that the murder rate had risen by 20% in the last five years with armed robberies increasing by 32% for the same period.

"It speaks to the low calibre of leader the president has assigned to the police."

Read more on:    police  |  iss  |  lesetja mothiba  |  jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  crime

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