Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula File picture: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – The appointment of a temporary police commissioner "will come back to haunt us when crime statistics are released", as the province continues to grappled with unprecedented high levels of crime.

So sai d S A Policing Union (Sapu) general secretary Tumelo Mogodiseng yesterday on Lieutenant-General Sindile Mfazi’s temporary appointment as the Western Cape police commissioner.

Following months of speculation amid alleged infighting, national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole yesterday announced that Mfazi, the current deputy national commissioner of management advisory services, would temporarily replace General Khombinkosi Jula, who has been appointed as KwaZulu-Natal’s top cop from August 1.

“I hold all these managers in high regard and I am sure that they will optimally guide those under their command to ensure a safer South Africa,” said Sitole.

The appointments, which excluded those tipped for the commissioner’s post, head of detective Major-General Jeremy Vearey; Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) head Major-General Andre Lincoln; and chief of national intelligence Major-General Peter Jacobs received mixed reactions from police unions.

Mogodiseng said yesterday that Jula’s redeployment showed a “lack of respect that Sitole has for the people of KwaZulu-Natal”.

“The recycling of ineffective commanders will compromise service delivery. These unwise appointments will come back to haunt us when crime statistics are released,” Mogodiseng said.

Jula’s role as Western Cape commissioner was placed in the spotlight recently following his establishment of the major offences reaction team at a cost of R1.16million while the AGU operated without a budget.

“Jula has dismally failed policing in the Western Cape. What will he do differently in KwaZulu-Natal?” asked Mogodiseng.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said the Western Cape faced many leadership challenges that need to be addressed.

“A new commissioner is something that would hopefully bring about that much-needed coordination, because as soon as the army leaves, there needs to be a maintenance of stability.

"Communities and community policing forums also have a role in this regard, as the problem does not solely lie within the SAPS,” said Mamabolo.

“The situation in the Western Cape is critical and calls for the attention of a full-time appointee who understands the complexities of the situation here and will come with solutions,”Jacobs said.

Welcoming Mfazi, Safety MEC Albert Fritz said the temporary appointment allows for a process to appoint a permanent commissioner.

“It is essential that the process be concluded swiftly and in a transparent manner given the vast number of murders which take place in our province each weekend,” Fritz said.

KwaZulu-Natal Community Safety and Liaison MEC Mxolisi Kaunda meanwhile said he was looking forward to working with Jula.

“The appointment of the new provincial commissioner could not have come at a better time as the Department of Community Safety and Liaison had just tabled a budget policy statement which outlines the province’s key priorities in the fight against crime.

‘‘One of the critical aspects of his job will be to improve community policing which requires close collaboration with community crime fighting structures,” Kaunda said.