I will clear my name
It was with surprise and great disdain that I read in this paper last weekend that African Estimate managing director Mulangi Mphego had placed himself in a position to pass judgement on matters that were heard by the Farlam commission investigating the Marikana tragedy, as well as the board of inquiry that has been instituted by President Jacob Zuma to look into my fitness to hold office (“No tears for Riah Phiyega”, City Press, February 7 2015).
I find Mphego’s assertions about my involvement in the Marikana tragedy grossly defamatory in nature and extremely reckless, considering how the events of that fateful day continue to elicit emotional reactions and pain from all of us as a nation.
In his attempt to play judge, Mphego exposes his ignorance with regard to SA Police Service (SAPS) HR procedures and terms of employment.
Acting crime intelligence head Chris Ngcobo, who Mphego mentions in his article, was not required to have a matric certificate to be eligible for the position he occupied. His suspension, therefore, did not emanate from his lack of qualification, but rather from the fact that he falsely stated to the security clearance authority, which is not in the SAPS, that he had the qualification in question, which in itself was tantamount to the serious transgression of misrepresentation.
When Mphego fails to grasp such basic concepts, one can’t help but doubt the credibility of his views on matters that are a lot more complex.
With regard to my ability to hold office as national commissioner, I was appointed based on my impeccable track record as an office bearer in both the private and public sectors.
I led the institution in financial reforms and good governance practices that curtailed wasteful expenditure and minimised corruption in one of the biggest state entities. For instance, the covert funds in the SAPS, which were unaudited in one year and had become a slush fund for individuals, moved from an audit disclaimer in 2013 to subsequent sustained unqualified audits. In 2014, the SAPS was identified as one of the departments with good management practices and was included in a review study by the Wits School of Governance.
In partnership with Unisa, the SAPS, for the first time in its history, started offering a bachelor of policing degree at the Paarl Academy. We overhauled and modernised the SAPS recruitment process, making it more community focused and ensuring that no people with criminal records entered the service.
These reforms are still in place and would be known to Mphego if he did some research before questioning my competence to hold office. This leaves me with only one question: Is Mphego attacking me because I was the first woman to be appointed national commissioner in the 100 years of the service and the first female national commissioner since our democracy? I appreciate but deprecate the discomfort Mphego has in embracing a woman at the helm of the police service. It is clear that, for him, female leadership equates to meekness, docility and timidity. He should learn to embrace women who are strong but compassionate.
My fitness to continue in this role will be determined by the board of inquiry that has been instituted by the president, and the outcome will be determined only by those who are part of the inquiry, which Mphego is not.
He reckons I should have quietly bowed out when I first started facing challenges. But that is not the kind of person I am. Resignation is not in my purview, and I will not rest until I have cleared my name.
I will fight all the opportunistic allegations and charges brought against me. I have said it before, and shall repeat myself: If the intention of the attacks is to divert my attention and resources from focusing on preparing for the upcoming inquiry, I assure all my detractors, including Mphego, that such attempts are in vain. I will, within the ambit of the law, do all in my power to defend myself and clear my name.
General Phiyega is suspended national police commissioner