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Johannesburg - It was surprising that national police commissioner Riah Phiyega failed to do a background check on Major-General Bethuel Mondli Zuma before appointing him as Gauteng's police commissioner, Agang said on Sunday.
“Following the recent revelation that 1 448 serving members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) have criminal records, it is astonishing that Phiyega had not thought to check the background of a candidate for such a senior role before formally appointing him,” Agang's political director Moeketsi Mosola said in a statement.
“Blinded by the search for a politically acceptable appointment, this fiasco is another blow to the credibility of the leadership of the SAPS.”
Zuma was given the provincial top cop post by Phiyega on Saturday, but his appointment was withdrawn several hours later after Phiyega learnt that Zuma had criminal investigations against him.
“I became aware of the court charges against Major-General Zuma just after the media briefing today (Saturday). I immediately met with him to establish the facts,” Phiyega said in a statement.
“He confirmed that indeed he has appeared several times in court since 2008 when the matter was first heard. He will be appearing again during September 2013.”
Phiyega claimed Zuma had not informed SAPS of the pending criminal investigations against him.
She said that in May, all SAPS workers were advised to disclose whether or not they had any pending criminal investigations against them, and failure to do so would be viewed as serious misconduct.
“I have therefore taken a firm decision to permanently withdraw his appointment. Disciplinary steps will be taken against Major-General Zuma for his failure to declare the pending criminal charges,” Phiyega said.
She said she had always had confidence in Zuma, and was disappointed by these revelations.
“In the time that I have known him, he has always come across as a decent, capable and committed police official and leader. I am sad and disappointed in him,” Phiyega said.
Divisional commissioner for visible policing, Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba would be the acting provincial commissioner of Gauteng until further notice.
Zuma, who has 20 years experience as a policeman, is not related to President Jacob Zuma.
He was meant to replace Lieutenant-General Mzwandile Petros, whose last day as a provincial commissioner was on Saturday.
Phiyega said Petros had agreed to stay with the police until the end of the year. - Sapa