I will clear my name

CityPress - - Voices - RIAH PHIYEGA voices@city­press.co.za

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

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