Riah Phiyega: Back off and let me do my job

Police commissioner tired of being ‘slandered’.

National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega is tired of dealing with “slander and mud-throwing” from her own colleagues.

Earlier this month, City Press reported that Phiyega’s niece, Brigadier Tumi Shai, was making enemies in the police by allegedly flaunting her relationship with the commissioner and throwing her weight around.

Since then, numerous police sources have told City Press that several of Phiyega’s relatives are in the police, and have questioned this apparent nepotism.

But the commissioner, who has had a tough week in the spotlight with the release of the latest crime statistics, has furiously denied this “slander”.

She admits to having two relatives in the police: Shai and her brother-in-law Brigadier Phuti Setati.

“Those people have been working for (the police) for years. They are not reporting to me, they have their own bosses. Your career cannot stop because your brother (for example) is now a manager.

“I think it is unfair. I think it takes me to that place where I think, ‘Is it me, the person, that is being attacked? Is it the job that is being attacked?’ You know, it’s slander, it’s mud-throwing and you throw as much mud hoping that one day it (will) stick.”

What she wants is to be judged on visible results – like the “full view” of the latest crime statistics.

The commissioner is adamant that these prove the police have “crime under control”.

She said: “I will tell you why I say so. When you go to any research institution to measure education, health, or safety and security, you need to take a full view, the longitudinal view of everything. It’s a complex and intricate portfolio. You can never say you have answers for everything, but what is left is that we must do it.”

She has plans for “doing it” – if she can get her management team on board, that is.

For starters, she wants to increase the training period for police from two to three years.

She also wants to introduce “refresher courses” for more experienced officers who are caught breaking the rules, a system she says may both decrease wrongdoing and improve public confidence in the service.

Phiyega is also looking at changing people’s shifts, an idea she’s canvassing with her team.

“In our shift management, where are our peaks and troughs?

Weekends definitely produce more crime and I am saying, ordinarily being a new person in policing, I am asking them, why we wouldn’t have our shifts concentrated around weekends because midweek is a little bit better.”

Changing the training regimen will, she believes, go a long way towards appointing the right people to the police.

Although the training period has already been increased from six months to two years, she’s not satisfied.

According to Phiyega, three years will give them more time to look at “influencing the values and patriotism of the police”.

She said: “You can’t do this type of job if you don’t have the love of your country and understanding of where you’re going.”

She emphasised several times she’s still trying to convince her colleagues to get behind the idea.

“It might also be radical to say that when you’ve done certain things, you need remedial training. We will take you out of the service to do remedial training.

I know they think I am very radical, maybe, but those are the types of things I’d like to converse with the leaders about.

“After you have arrested a person in a manner in which we haven’t trained you, we don’t only reprimand you or deal with you from a misconduct perspective, but we must also say: ‘Go and train because it means you have forgotten how we to do these things.’”


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