Police boss should be independent, says DA

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday urged President Jacob Zuma to appoint a national police commissioner with experience, expertise and independence.

“On the eve of the announcement of a new ... commissioner, the DA is calling on President Zuma to appoint a candidate that has the requisite experience and expertise in safety and security matters, is a leader, acts independently and has the right work skills and a history of ethical conduct,” DA spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said in a statement.

The African National Congress (ANC) would be allowing history to repeat itself by deploying a cadre to the post, rather than the most qualified person.

Zuma should bear in mind when making this decision that outgoing commissioner Jackie Selebi, a former ANC member of Parliament with no policing background, made for a terrible national commissioner.

Selebi’s reign had disastrous effects on the state of safety and security in the country, she said.

Apart from the ongoing corruption scandal dogging Selebi, he had made some appalling decisions that demonstrated his lack of expertise and instinct towards political meddling.

A good example of this was his decision to get rid of specialist family violence, child protection and sexual offences units, which had had such a severe impact upon detective work and victim support in those particular areas that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa recently had to announce a policy u-turn on that matter.

“Right now there is a field of candidates for the post, and some of these candidates are irredeemably compromised by their political biases or lack of policing expertise.

“One of Selebi’s speculated successors stands out in this regard,” Kohler-Barnard said.

Appointing Western Cape Provincial Commissioner Mzwandile Petros would be allowing history to repeat itself. Petros had a history of operating in an “ethically dubious, politically compromised” manner.

“Put simply, the South African public deserve better—they deserve a police commissioner who will act in the interests of all South Africans, and not the narrow political interests of the ANC.”

The South African Police Service (SAPS) had fallen into disarray as a result of a lack of competent leadership.

At the last count, 52 people were murdered each day.
Last year there were 6 119 complaints against the police—up from 5 830 in 2007.

Backlogs in forensic science laboratories were stymieing cases, while rogue units such as the VIP protection unit urgently needed to be reigned in.

“It is vitally important that the new national police commissioner has a history of ethical conduct.

“These qualities would allow the new national police commissioner to hit the ground running and get the work done—work that has been left neglected for far too long,” Kohler-Barnard said.—Sapa

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