Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said a new national police commissioner would be appointed soon. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA Pictures
Cape Town - If President Jacob Zuma chooses the next national police commissioner, he must look beyond the current deputy national commissioners - none of them have the skills to take the SAPS to the next level.

That's the opinion of the president of the SA Policing Union (Sapu) Mpho Kwinika, who said there were only a handful of people with the necessary skills in the national forum.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said Zuma was poised to appoint a new national police commissioner. Kwinika said the president should allow some transparency in the selection process.

"If I were to look at deputy national commissioners today, I do not think there is anyone that can take this institution to the next level... We have a very flat structure, they are not doing as they are supposed to."

Kwinika said the president should allow some transparency in the selection process.

"If the president will allow a team of experts that will identify three commissioners and recommend that he choose from there, this will invite many candidates, even from the army. It will invite some generals, who have resigned and still believe they can serve in the police." 

Head of the Justice and Violence Prevention programme at the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham said the president was ignoring the recommendations in the National Development PLan, which proposed a transparent and merit-based process to choose the right man or woman as South Africa’s top cop. 

"If Zuma fails to implement the NDP recommendations, he is once again snubbing cabinet, his party and Parliament, and neglecting the urgent need for skilled police leadership to bring down violent crime."

Newham said should an appointment be made behind closed doors, there would be questions.

“That person will step into the job with a lot of suspicion and the public won’t trust them, they will be scrutinised and everyone will be suspicious and in-fighting within the police will continue."

Corruption Watch head David Lewis said senior officers in the force should be considered before an external candidate was looked at. 

“There are three deputy national commissioners and lieutenant generals, and if none of them are suitable, given that we think experience should be one of the important criteria, then we have a real problem. If from the three senior policemen there is not one credible candidate, if that is so we are in bigger trouble than we thought.” 

He said it was alarming to them to discover that the president may once again be preparing to act alone in appointing a top cop. 

“This means that Zuma, a man facing fraud and corruption charges, will appoint the SAPS head who may well have to drive police investigations against him, his family and corrupt cronies.” 

Zuma has a poor record of policing appointments, the ISS and Corruption Watch said. 

There have been five national police commissioners since 2009.

Jackie Selebi, who served from 2000 to 2009, was found guilty of corruption, fraud and racketeering in 2010.

Selebi was succeeded by Bheki Cele, who served from 2009 to 2012. He was removed after being accused of gross misconduct. 

Riah Phiyega was the next commissioner between 2012 and 2014. She was sharply criticised over her handling of the 2012 Marikana Massacre and was suspended in 2015.

Her successor, acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, was suspended earlier this year following allegations of corruption.

Lesetja Mothiba is currently serving as acting police commissioner. 

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Cape Argus