2 minute read
15 Oct 2015
2:22 pm

Phiyega does cops no favours

President Jacob Zuma yesterday suspended National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega on full pay pending a decision on her fitness to hold office.

Police commissioner Riah Phiyega. Picture: Refilwe Modise

While the move will be welcomed by the many organisations that have called for her to be fired, it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Phiyega’s handling of the Marikana tragedy flung her into the spotlight, especially after the recommendations made by the Marikana Commission headed by Judge Ian Farlam. She has been suspended as a result of her conduct during and after the Marikana shootings, but commentators have used police infighting, corruption and an unacceptably high level of violent crime as a yardstick by which to measure her efficacy as national commissioner.

The police make headlines daily, often for negative reasons. It is no surprise the popular perception is that there is little to be hopeful about in the fight against crime. Clearly, the majority of police officers are honest, but their image suffers every time a horror story surfaces. It seems that every time the police do something positive, a PR disaster is around the corner.

Yesterday, it was reported the Hawks arrested the kingpin of an illicit gold syndicate. It was a good story, except it vied for headlines with a warrant officer who allegedly raped the 13-year-old daughter of his colleague. This man in no way reflects the Saps, but it does little to instil confidence in the public when people in uniform commit the very heinous crimes we call on them to police?

However, what is happening at the top threatens to convince the public the recent crime stats, which make gloomy reading, will become the norm. Suspended Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride allegedly wrote to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko recommending that Phiyega be investigated for corruption.

He claimed Phiyega allowed a corrupt environment to thrive. Now, she’s gone. With a police commissioner who has been suspended, high-profile cases of police crime and a high crime rate, it is clear there are serious problems in the force. The only winners in this situation are people trying to evade the law.