Durban - The were mixed feelings on Monday after the police's top brass announced the appointment of former Western Cape (WC) police commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Elvis Jula as KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner.
Jula, 55, whose appointment will take effect this Thursday was criticised for "decimating" the Western Cape's flying squad unit by DA shadow minister for police, Dianne Kohler-Barnard, while another observer said the new man must be given time to prove himself as the dynamic between the two provinces were different.
National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) General Khehla John Sitole made the official announcement on Monday morning.
He said Jula has more than 30 years of service having enlisted as a student constable in Durban. Jula then rose through the ranks to the level of Lieutenant General in 2016 when he was appointed as Provincial Commissioner(PC) of the Western Cape(WC), where he has been serving to date.
Jula held several positions in KZN including the deputy PC of Human Resource Management and deputy PC of Visible Policing. Jula also holds a B-Tech degree in Policing as well as a National Diploma in Police Administration.
Jula was commended for the sterling work he had done in the WC by Sitole who regarded him as the most experienced to take up the vacant position PC in KZN. Jula also served in KZN for the majority of his police career.
The current acting police commissioner in KZN, Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Sibusiso Mkhwanazi, has been moved to national head office in Pretoria as the the Divisional Commissioner for Operational Response Services.
Mkhwanazi was appointed as acting police commissioner in KZN in May 2018 after the suspension of Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni.
Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo spokesperson for the national commissioner said that the WC position of PC will be temporarily filled by Lieutenant General Sindile Mfazi, the current deputy national commissioner of management advisory services.
Speaking to the Daily News today, Kohler-Barnard said she would not forget the negative role Mkhwanazi played in KZN.
Kohler Barnard said the shuffle showcases a win for Sitole because influential politicians wanted Mkhwanazi to be the commissioner.
“Mkhwanazi allegedly SMS’ed the police station commanders forbidding them from allowing me to do conduct oversight visits. He made cops sign forms that if they spoke to a politician they would be dismissed,” she said.
Kohler Barnard claimed that Jula allegedly decimated the WC Flying Squad by ordering almost 300 police members and over 100 vehicles from normal police stations to work at his pet project Major Offence Reaction Team MORT.
“That total includes 52 flying squad members who are now deployed to MORT. The extraordinary point is that this MORT only works after business hours from a Thursday to a Sunday. Hopefully now that Jula has been moved and all eyes are on the Western Cape, with the knowledge that playing politics with police costs South African lives, General Sithole will apply his mind to these issues,”kohler Barnard said.
Mary De Haas, a KZN Violence monitor, said Jula should not be judged on his management of gang violence in the WC because that was a long-standing problem linked to organised crime.
She said the policing dynamics of the WC was different.
“Jula was an active Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) member in the 1990’s. I recall him being of assistance when he was in different positions in KZN before transfer to the Cape. Jula's extensive experience of policing dynamics in KZN will stand him in good stead and I hope he will carry on good work started by Mkhwanazi in sorting out problems which had escalated during the Ngobeni tenure,” De Haas said.