Phiyega: I'm the victim of a witch-hunt

Suspended police commissioner Riah Phiyega. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Suspended police commissioner Riah Phiyega. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega is adamant that she has nothing to hide and instead believes there is witch-hunt to tarnish her name.

On Tuesday the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) acting head Israel Kgamanyane told MPs that investigators had registered cases of defeating the ends of justice against Phiyega and Zukiswa Mbombo, North West police commissioner at the time of the massacre in Marikana. 

The IPID was briefing Parliament’s police committee on the implementation of the Farlam commission’s recommendations, made in a report released last year.

Among them was that a board of inquiry be set up to investigate Phiyega’s fitness to hold office.

The inquiry, which starts on May 3 and runs until June 10, will be chaired by Judge Cornelis Johannes Claassen at the Law Reform Commission offices in Centurion, Gauteng.

On Wednesday, Phiyega responded to the IPID briefing with guns blazing, talking about witch-hunts and kangaroo courts and attempts to blacken her name.

“I surmise that there is a deliberate effort to force me to abandon my quest to set the record straight,” she said at her press conference in Sandton, Johannesburg.

“I am saddened that such a tragic event has continued to be used as a witch-hunt against me for inexplicable and undeclared personalised vendettas.”

Phiyega said that since her suspension there has been a relentless campaign to harass and convict her in the court of public opinion.

She said the IPID’s announcement to the portfolio committee was opportunistic and concerning: “The IPID investigations are not finished yet against me and others, so what’s this rush that I don’t understand. I heard of the charges in the public yesterday, yet I am the affected person and I haven’t been asked to give a statement.”

Phiyega painted a picture of how there have been numerous parallel investigations into her conduct despite there being an inquiry announced to begin in May.

She called the reference group investigation a ministerial sanctioned kangaroo court “which breached all principles of fair play in the conduct of hearing and is devoid of any legal authority”.

She said the members of the reference group, who made findings against her, still remain faceless.

She added that the regulation 201 investigation, which ran parallel to the “kangaroo court”, looked into numerous issues regarding her conduct but also never heard her side of the story.

Phiyega said the penny dropped that there was an agenda to discredit when it was leaked to the media that Police Minister Nathi Nhleko had cut a portion of her allowances. She added that this was not the only time that information had been secretly disclosed to the media.

“I have repeatedly stated on record that I seek no financial gain. Resignation is also not in my purview as I just want the opportunity to clear my name through due process, which I believe the scheduled inquiry will provide,” she said.

She added that she will co-operate fully with IPID and the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions because she believes she will get a fair trial.

“The public is looking at me like I am a monster, a criminal, someone who is a thief. I did nothing wrong, I am no monster and I will prove that,” she said.

Phiyega would not be drawn on her preparations for the inquiry into her fitness to hold office. She mentioned that 95% of her testimony would be based on the police information brought before the Farlam commission.

 
Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession. Read more from Athandiwe Saba

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