Top cop will have to earn her stripes

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new female top cop_sized GCIS New National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega says she is humbled by her appointment. Photo: Elmond Jiyane / GCIS

Experts say newly appointed police commissioner Riah Phiyega will have to earn her place in the organisation as a civilian walking into the top post in the SAPS.

Institute for Security Studies senior researcher Johan Burger said: “Relying on the appointment alone is not going to be enough.”

The decision to appoint Phiyega might suggest that President Jacob Zuma felt he could not trust top officials in the police, he said.

He also speculated that Phiyega was not only a political appointment, but chosen because the president wanted someone to represent his interests and was unable to keep Richard Mdluli, the suspended head of crime intelligence.

It was highly unlikely that Zuma could not find anyone in the police capable of assuming the role of commissioner, Burger said.

“The only other conclusion is that he wanted to appoint someone that he personally trusts.

“(Phiyega) will have the authority to establish herself, but whether that is (enough) for police officers to accept her is a different question.”

Meanwhile, Parliament’s committee on police has had its first meeting without Sindi Chikunga as its chairwoman. She was appointed as deputy transport minister.

It was business as usual but committee members expressed their sadness at losing Chikunga while congratulating her on her promotion. DA police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard said she was a “massive fan” of Chikunga. It was terrible to lose someone who had “turned us into the premier committee in Parliament”.

Cope MP Mluleki George said Chikunga had been a good choice, but he disapproved of Zuma’s choice for police chief. He said a police officer should have been appointed.

Political Bureau

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