Phiyega takes the fight to Baleka

CityPress - - Front Page - ABRAM MASHEGO abram.mashego@city­press.co.za

Sus­pended po­lice chief Gen­eral Riah Phiyega has given Par­lia­ment and Speaker Baleka Mbete an ul­ti­ma­tum to re­scind a com­mit­tee re­port crit­i­cis­ing her lead­er­ship and her board of com­mis­sion­ers, or face le­gal ac­tion. This is the lat­est salvo from Phiyega, who has been fight­ing to keep her job.

In a se­ries of emails to Mbete and par­lia­men­tary po­lice port­fo­lio com­mit­tee chair­per­son Fran­cois Beuk­man, which City Press has ob­tained copies of, Phiyega warns she will go to court if the re­port is not re­scinded.

An email sent by Phiyega’s lawyer, Sandile July, from Werks­mans At­tor­neys last week says that Phiyega ob­jected to sev­eral find­ings of the com­mit­tee – in­clud­ing one of her en­ter­ing “the po­lit­i­cal arena” – which were made “with­out her be­ing given an op­por­tu­nity to state her case”.

Phiyega says the com­mit­tee was “un­fair” and “un­con­sti­tu­tional”, and played the role of “com­plainant and ar­biter at the same time”.

“In light of the above, our in­struc­tions are that we de­mand from the com­mit­tee that it re­scinds its de­ci­sion made on Novem­ber 11 2015 to adopt ... the com­mit­tee re­port by no later than Novem­ber 16 2015.”

Mbete did not re­spond to the email, but Beuk­man re­sponded, giv­ing Phiyega un­til Mon­day to make writ­ten rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the com­mit­tee.

How­ever, Phiyega re­fused to make the rep­re­sen­ta­tions, say­ing she would be un­able to do so at such short no­tice.

Beuk­man has ex­tended her dead­line to De­cem­ber 4, which Phiyega said she would also be un­able to meet.

“Our client’s in­abil­ity to meet the dead­line of De­cem­ber 4 should not be con­strued as her un­will­ing­ness to co­op­er­ate,” said July in an email.

Beuk­man con­firmed that the com­mit­tee was no­ti­fied of im­pend­ing le­gal ac­tion.

“The mat­ter is now with the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer [Mbete], who will guide the process go­ing for­ward,” he said.

City Press un­der­stands that the re­port will be de­bated in Par­lia­ment in Fe­bru­ary.

Phiyega is also bat­tling Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko, who she ac­cuses of run­ning a “kan­ga­roo court” af­ter he re­leased the find­ings of a ref­er­ence group re­port into her man­age­ment.

Phiyega’s spokesper­son, Solomon Mak­gale, and her long-time as­so­ciate deputy com­mis­sioner Nobubele Mbekela were served with let­ters of in­tent to sus­pend them this week for their roles in is­su­ing state­ments in sup­port of Phiyega, which was con­sid­ered in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

The state­ments in sup­port of Phiyega were made by sev­eral pro­vin­cial com­mis­sion­ers in the wake of the im­pend­ing com­mis­sion of in­quiry into her fit­ness to hold of­fice.

Mak­gale was the first one to be served the no­tice.

Mbekela, who also pub­licly an­nounced her sup­port for Phiyega, faces sus­pen­sion for sev­eral rea­sons, in­clud­ing that she said on ra­dio: “The men of the coun­try are at­tack­ing women in the coun­try.” She said this in the con­text of her sup­port for Phiyega af­ter a board of in­quiry was an­nounced into her fit­ness to hold of­fice.

Ac­cord­ing to her charge sheet seen by City Press, she faces charges of im­proper con­duct, and the “dis­grace­ful and un­ac­cept­able man­ner” in which she con­ducted the in­ter­view.

Mak­gale and Mbekela have made rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the po­lice ex­plain­ing why they should not be sus­pended. Mak­gale wrote through his lawyers that his “con­duct amounted to noth­ing more than him car­ry­ing out his func­tions as head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions”.

Mbekela’s lawyers made a sub­mis­sion to act­ing na­tional com­mis­sioner Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Jo­hannes Phahlane, say­ing the in­quiry rec­om­mended by the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee was still sub­ject to re­view and “un­der con­sid­er­a­tion by the Speaker”.

Mbete could not be reached for com­ment.

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