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Parliament - National police commissioner Riah Phiyega was told in Parliament on Friday to fire all her senior management staff if they failed to improve their performance.
The comment came from an exasperated Annelise van Wyk, chairwoman of the police portfolio committee, as she interrogated a senior police delegation about glaring discrepancies in the SA Police Service's 2012/13 annual report.
“It is time for this management to start earning their salaries and to start doing the jobs they are appointed for and, national commissioner, if it is not happening, fire them,” she said.
At issue was a claim in the annual report that the embattled crime intelligence division has a vacancy rate of 16.8 percent.
Repeated questions to SAPS general manager for corporate services Ottilia Moutlane finally revealed that in fact the embattled division was fully staffed with all 9928 funded posts filled.
The vacancy rate related to the 1601 positions that the police believed the branch was short of its “ideal” staff component of 10,777 members, Moutlane explained.
Van Wyk berated management for creating the impression that crime intelligence was understaffed and that this might be the cause for some of the division's well publicised woes.
“It is creating confusion. The figure you are referring to is a wishlist. You have got a 100 percent staff rate,” she said before ordering that the entry be fixed in an erratum to the annual report.
Democratic Alliance police spokeswoman Diane Kohler-Barnard went further and said this amounted to lying to oversight bodies.
“It is a fabrication that has gone to the auditor general, it is a very serious matter.”
Phiyega protested that the police had been entirely transparent with the auditor general, adding that it was “nowhere in our intentions” to misrepresent statistics.
Kohler-Barnard refused to withdraw her remark.
Management came in for a further rebuke when it transpired that it was battling to reduce a backlog in vetting staff, to the extent that at the moment the security clearance of five of crime intelligence's nine provincial commanders had lapsed.
Moutlane conceded that the backlog stood at more than 7000 officers, but since April the police had managed to vet only 127.
“It is bad,” she added.
Phiyega said she had held discussions with the SA Revenue Service with a view to adopting fast-tracking vetting methods they had successfully implemented.
To this, Van Wyk said the national commissioner should not be micro-managing problems but be able to trust her senior managers to tackle them as a normal part of their duties.
MPs also expressed concern that the requests from other police departments to crime intelligence for assistance had decreased, suggesting that the rank and file was losing trust in the division.
The exchange came at the end of three days of briefings by the police to the committee amid speculation of a possible return by suspended crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli to his old post.
New national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana said this week he had appealed against a court decision ordering the SAPS to reinstate criminal charges of corruption, murder and kidnapping, and disciplinary steps, against Mdluli.
The Pretoria High Court last month ordered the immediate reinstatement of the charges Ä which relate in part to the killing of a love rival of Mdluli and allegations that he looted the crime intelligence slush fund.
The murder charges had controversially been withdrawn in late 2011 but Judge John Murphy said the evidence presented a compelling prima facie case against Mdluli.
Phiyega this week said the police were anxious for the Mdluli matter to be finalised in the interest of “making this country safe and secure”.