Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has courted controversy by including policing and military skills as requirements in its search for the new chief of police, thereby contravening a national regulation.
The post became vacant after former top cop Steven Ngobeni reached a mutual agreement to part ways with the City in April following months of differences in opinions with his bosses.
His former deputy Jenny Malan has been acting in the position since his departure.
Municipal insiders said that by changing the regulation to include policing and military experience as part of the requirement, the City was opening the door for corruption.
According to them, the employer acted outside the ambit of the law by broadening the scope of requirements for the post.
A senior metro police officer, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media, said allowing SAPS and military officers was illegal.
It was against the legal requirement, he said, which stated that the successful candidate must have a traffic diploma and municipal training. Police and military personnel didn’t necessarily possess those qualifications.
“The question is why are they now changing what is being prescribed by the law. Only Parliament can change the law,” he said.
He labelled the City’s decision as being tantamount to corruption and nepotism.
However, the metro on Sunday defended its decision, saying the deviation was done deliberately and for a good reason.
The MMC for Community Safety, Derrick Kissoonduth, said the decision to change the scope of requirements of the head of the Tshwane Metro Police Department was to widen the pool of applicants; nothing else.
“The inclusion of policing and military skills is because the city is looking for a bigger pool of candidates,” Kissoonduth told the Pretoria News.
“We already have some names from quite a number of people who had applied.”
The amendments were done in the second advertisement published internally on Friday and carried in newspapers on Sunday. However, this contradicted the regulation which deals with the employment of a metro police manager.
The regulation stipulated that the post of metro police chief can only be filled by someone who had qualified as a traffic officer.
The officer, according to the regulation, must be in possession of a traffic officer diploma and municipal management qualification.
The initial advertisement, published a month ago, stated experience in metro policing as a requirement.
But, the new advertisement stated: “All requirements applicable to be appointed as a municipal police member must have successfully completed the prescribed municipal or SAPS or SANDF training at an accredited training facility.”
In terms of the outcomes of a meeting of the metro police chiefs in February 2009, non-members of the metro police can be appointed as police chiefs.
“Members of the SAPS do not complete traffic training or municipal police training and therefore also do not qualify as members of a municipal police service as required by the SAPS Act,” read the minutes of that meeting.
It further stated: “It is therefore clear that neither a traffic officer, ex or present, nor a South African Police Service member (ex or present) can be appointed as municipal police chief.”
But Kissoonduth defended the deviation and said it was because the City wanted a person with discipline to take over the post of the police chief.
It was important to get the best person for the job because the City would spend R2 billion on the Metro Police Department, he said.
“We are hoping to get somebody with some of the requirements that we need,” Kissoonduth said.
“It is a management position . The idea is to have someone who has a military or policing background; someone with discipline.”