Suspended police commissioner Riah Phiyega File picture: Thobile Mathonsi/Independent Media
Cape Town – Parliament wants the process by which the national commissioner of police is appointed to be reviewed.

It says the Civilian Secretariat for Police should play a key role in developing a policy that will lead to the selection of a successful candidate.

The current process allows the president to use his discretion in the appointment of the police boss.

If the portfolio committee on police has its way, the president will set up a panel to recommend the new commissioner.

Chairperson of the committee Francois Beukman said they wanted the Civilian Secretariat for Police to be heavily involved in the selection process.

The proposal of the committee has been backed by analysts who said on Monday it would strengthen oversight on the selection of the police boss.

With suspended police commissioner Riah Phiyega’s contract coming to an end in July, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has promised that the new police commissioner would be appointed before the end of the year.

Beukman said the new process to appoint the new police commissioner would be in line with the National Development Plan (NDP).

Institute for Security Studies senior researcher Johan Burger said they welcomed the committee’s proposal.

“We would support that, keeping in mind the NDP has recommended the establishment of the National Policing Board that would comprise individuals, from outside, who would develop criteria for the national commissioner and deputy national commissioner,” said Burger.

He said the multi-disciplinary board had not yet been established.

As an interim measure it was bringing some level of comfort if the Civilian Secretariat for Police looked into this.

Burger said that at the moment, there were no requirements for the national commissioner. This was in contrast to other positions in the security cluster where there were many requirements.

He said that with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate and the Hawks, the requirements were that their heads must be fit and proper persons.

“But for the largest organisation, there are no requirements and no criteria. One would expect there would be stringent requirements for the person at the top of the police,” said Burger.

In turn, the head of the police had the discretion to appoint his or her own deputy.

Burger said this was untenable, and the NDP must be implemented in the appointment process.

Head of politics at Unisa Professor Dirk Kotze said the committee’s proposal was a step in the right direction.

He said the decision by MPs brought the appointment of the head of the police in line with other similar appointments in government and state-owned entities in which Parliament was involved.

“It will develop more consensus on how a person is appointed,” he said.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was using a very stringent process to appoint judges, where they were interviewed by a panel before being recommended, according to Kotze.

This was the same sentiment expressed by Burger, who said the JSC was the best example of showing how best to pick candidates for senior and critical positions in government.

The portfolio committee has called for the speedy appointment of the police chief.

Politics Bureau