Key posts suspense mounting
Delay likely until ANC meeting
OPPOSITION parties and crime experts say they are waiting anxiously for President Jacob Zuma to appoint a new national police commissioner and head of the Hawks.
The director of crime intelligence post is also vacant.
Opposition parties and crime experts have accused Zuma of being “secretive” and having “no political will” to appoint competent officers to the top positions.
Gareth Newham, head of the ISS justice and violence prevention programme, said that since 2012 the police budget had increased by 50%, but performance had declined. Currently, R87 billion has been made available for the police.
Newham said that with the breakdown of the structure, organised criminals had become “bolder and more vicious”.
The SAPS national commissioner is an all-powerful position, and that person has the final say on almost all decisions in the organisation.
“It is not that there aren’t excellent police commanders, but the president refuses to appoint them,” Newham said. “Only one person can fix this, and that is the president, but he is not interested in appointing a highly skilled person for the job.” He said that no one had an idea of who might be the contenders for the top spots other than Zuma, “but at the moment, he is snubbing the policies of the cabinet and his own political party”.
“If he was following those policies, then the public would know who the contenders were. Decisions are taken in secret and we just have to wait and see if he follows the road to disaster again,” Newham said.
The DA’s deputy spokesperson on police, Dianne Kohler Barnard, believes the new permanent appointments in the SAPS, Hawks and Crime Intelligence will be “political”.
She said the results of lack of leadership in the police service have been “catastrophic”, and predicted Zuma would only make appointments known after the ANC conference in December.
“At this point, any decision made could affect the conference,” she said.
Kohler Barnard said the lack of leadership and waves of disaster in the police services started after the appointment of Jackie Selebi as national police commissioner in 2000.
“Since then, there has just been no leadership.”
Currently acting as national police commissioner since June this year is Lieutenant-General Lesethja Mothiba, who replaced Lt-Gen Kgomotso Phalane.
With 35 years of experience under his belt, Mothiba held a number of top management positions, including national head of visible policing and Gauteng commissioner. Violence monitor in KZN Mary de Haas said the state of policing in the country was in a “shambles”.
“There is no real leadership in the policing services and it boils down to political interference. People are in management who should not be there, and were placed because of political interference,” De Haas said.
She said management was “top-heavy, dysfunctional and unaccountable”.
Currently, the head of the police anti-corruption agency is General King Bhoyi Ngcobo, who was once a trusted bodyguard to Zuma.
De Haas said that an officer with a reputation for securing High Court convictions was needed as head of the Hawks.
Currently, the acting director of the Hawks is Lt-Gen Yolisa Matakata, who was appointed in April 2017 by Minister Fikile Mbalula. She was formerly the deputy national head of the Hawks and former Western Cape Hawks boss.
Veteran investigative journalist Jacques Pauw’s book, The President’s Keepers, claims Zuma installed “stooges” at key law enforcement agencies.
Pauw said anyone who tried to investigate and reveal corruption was targeted through dismissals, intimidation, demotions, trumped-up charges and endless court cases.