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Pretoria - Embattled national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega may believe she is the target of criticism because she is a woman, but her lack of police experience could also be the subject of a parliamentary debate if the DA gets its way.
This comes amid calls for a judicial commission of inquiry to be set up into police brutality by the DA and the SA Police Union (Sapu).
The police have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons since the Marikana massacre last year when 34 miners were killed by police.
In the latest case of police brutality, Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia died in custody after he had been dragged by a police vehicle. Nine police officers were arrested and charged with his murder.
MPs have expressed outrage at the latest case of alleged police brutality where an officer in North West allegedly grabbed a court interpreter by the neck and dragged him from the side of a police vehicle down a road.
Last week, DA spokeswoman on police Dianne Kohler Barnard called for a parliamentary debate on having a professional police officer as head the service.
The Sunday Times quoted Phiyega as asking: “Are we having a veiled gender debate?”
Phiyega said her predecessors, Bheki Cele and Jackie Selebi, had never received the same attention during their tenures.
Kohler Barnard said: “To blame her gender, I couldn’t believe it. But I did call for the need for a professional police officer to head the service instead of a recycled politician or someone who knows absolutely nothing.”
Kohler Barnard said the police were in “absolute chaos”.
“If she can’t take the heat she must get out of the kitchen, go out and go quietly. Do we really think dressing up a civilian in uniform that police will respect them? So we are looking for a debate for this in the house”, she added.
George Fivaz, who retired in 2000, and Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, who acted in the position briefly, were the only national commissioners with real police experience. Fivaz was succeeded by Selebi.
Sapu general secretary Oscar Skommere said the national commissioner was a political appointment and the union could not do anything about that. “What option do we have?
“The national commissioner is appointed by the president. We have also been calling for someone who grew up in the police environment. When Phiyega was appointed we raised our issue, but now that she’s here, we decided to work with her.” Skommere also called for a commission on inquiry into police brutality.