Columns 9.9.2013 09:00 am

Phiyega out, Petros in

Riah Phiyega is a very nice person but a year after her appointment as national police commissioner it is clear she lacks what it takes for the job.

Why not appoint Lt-Gen Mzwandile Petros?

When the President appointed her I wrote in The Citizen that we could not afford another failed police commissioner.

I said then the SAPS is one of the largest centralised police forces in the world and that it would not only take great managerial skills but also someone who knew something about policing. I asked whether there was not even one professional policeman in the SAPS who possessed the requisite qualities, police experience and authority who could have been appointed instead of Phiyega.

Over a year later it is clear she is not the person to lead the fight against crime and restore the morale and the battered image of the SAPS.

The recent farce with the appointment and dismissal hours later of a new provincial commissioner for Gauteng was the latest in a long line of missteps. This one had nothing to do with police methods; it was a management failure deluxe by someone who prides herself on her management skills.

No one expects the commissioner to know everything about the 200 000 employees under her command.

But she has been in office for more than a year. Does she not even know the generals who serve under her? Is it possible that one of the most senior generals, considered worthy of promotion to Gauteng police commissioner, could be facing criminal charges with the possibility of a jail term on conviction, without her knowing about it or someone in her office knowing about it?

The SAPS must be unique as the only organisation in the world where no one records this sort of thing, or at a more informal level, gossips about the trials and tribulations of the leading members.

One wonders if the commissioner was set up by some of those who should be advising and helping her. Why was she not warned? Or does she not listen to advice? It would be instructive to hear the outcome of an internal investigation but whatever it is, this was yet another embarrassing failure. She said recently that she has a calling to serve South Africa. I suggest the President should thank her for her service and in ANC parlance, deploy her to Parliament as a candidate for the next election.

Her training as a social worker and the management skills she has picked up along the way would make her a very good MP.

The outgoing Gauteng police commissioner, General Petros, was praised to the skies by Commissioner Phiyega, by sources in the SAPS and in the media.

I have met him once or twice and he makes a favourable impression. If he is as good as they say he is, here is the solution to the problem.

In the general we have a senior, respected policeman with many years of excellent service and an unblemished record. Why not make him the national police commissioner?

Think about it, Mr President.

Follow the former opposition chief whip and former ambassador to Thailand on Twitter @dhmgibson

 

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