Police Chief’s audacious SMS to Parliamentarian could prove her final straw

SA’s police chief, Riah Phiyega was long ago exposed as a particularly bad result of the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment. Like the breathtakingly unqualified chairman of South African Airways Dudu Myeni, Phiyega has been horribly and obviously out of her depth running the nation’s crime fighting arm. A social worker with solid ANC credentials, she was plucked from obscurity through a senior appointments into State-owned Transnet. Despite zero policing experience, in June 2012 she was appointed head of the SAPS. Phiyega has finally lost the favour of ANC power mongers, including President Jacob Zuma. An arrogant text message sent to Parliamentarian Diane Kohler-Barnard of the DA is likely to be the last straw that breaks this particular camel’s back. With the disastrous Phiyega having followed the blatantly corrupted Jackie Selebi, you’d think Luthuli House would have learnt a lesson. And that selection of the next police chief will be the consequence of a rational process. Don’t bet on it. Until the ANC abandons cadre deployment, South Africa is likely to be inflicted with another politically-appointed stooge into this critical job. And we wonder why the crime rate is so high? – Alec Hogg  

Riah Phiyega, National police commissioner of the South African Police Service
Riah Phiyega, National police commissioner of the South African Police Service

By Bianca Capazorio and RDM News Wire

National police spokesperson Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale on Tuesday confirmed his boss‚ Police Commissioner Gerneral Riah Phiyega‚ had sent a text message telling Kohler Barnard to “Eat your heart out. I am not made by you and cannot be undone by you”.

“The SMS was indeed sent by General Phiyega and was not meant for public distribution by Ms Kohler Barnard‚ Makgale said.

He also attacked Kohler Barnard for what he called an “unprovoked and unbecoming personal attack” that led to his boss sending the SMS.

This followed the parliamentary portfolio committee on police on Tuesday launching an investigation into the SMS‚ which at the time had not been confirmed as coming from Phiyega. Kohler Barnard said she had received the SMS at 8.41pm last Thursday. She had just done an interview with ANN7 following the apologies made by provincial commissioners in the portfolio committee earlier in the day.

The full text of the SMS read: “I am black‚ proud and capable and get it clear you can take nothing from me. Eat your heart out. I am not made by you and cannot be undone by you.” Both ruling party and opposition party members of the committee expressed shock over the SMS should it be confirmed that Phiyega had sent it.

Chairman of the police committee Francois Beukman ordered Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba to confirm by Wednesday whether the number used to send the SMS belonged to Phiyega.

Makgale issued a statement on Tuesday night‚ saying: “It is rather surprising that Ms Kohler Barnard suddenly alleges that she no longer knows the national commissioner’s cellphone number‚ although she has previously received communication from the same number.”

This after Kohler-Barnard‚ Makgale said‚ “circulated an SMS and claimed that she was uncertain whether or not it was sent by…Phiyega”.

“If Ms Kohler-Barnard feels threatened by a statement of self-affirmation then it is unfortunate. The message was certainly not intended as a threat and it is difficult to see how it could be interpreted as such.

“It is equally unfortunate that Ms Kohler-Barnard launched an unprovoked and unbecoming personal attack on the National Commissioner during a television interview on ANN7 last week Thursday.”

On Tuesday‚ Kohler Barnard said she did not know the number but had received an SMS in 2014 from the same number‚ also signed Riah Phiyega‚ about police matters.

Kohler Barnard told the committee a journalist had called the number following the most recent SMS‚ and said Phiyega had answered.

Committee members said they would wait for the results of the investigation but were clearly angry at the possibility that she could have sent the SMS.

“I don’t want to believe it is the commissioner‚ but if it did happen‚ it compounds the problem and sends a particular message to 200000 police officers about us‚” said African National Congress MP Leonard Ramatlakane.

His ANC colleague Livhuhani Mabija said “if it really is from her‚ where does she get the audacity to do that?”

The Economic Freedom Fighters’ Phillip Mhlongo said the message was “tantamount to mutiny” and said she should be suspended and stripped of her role.

Beukman said that the investigation would also look into the minutes of the July meeting in which the board of commissioners had decided to issue the press statement in which they pledged their support for Phiyega.

It would also look into a new statement issued by the board after its appearance before the board last week. The provincial commissioners and its author‚ SAPS spokesman Solomon Makgale‚ were all made to apologise and to withdraw their statement.

However‚ Makgale then issued another statement in which the provincial commissioners said they regretted the confusion around the statement and apologised for the confusion. It‚ however‚ made no mention of retracting the original statement.

Beukman also said the new statement attributed comments to the committee which they had not made.

He then asked the commissioners to clarify whether they stood by their apologies from last week‚ or aligned themselves with the new statement.

Some‚ including Mothiba‚ said while they stood by their apology‚ they also stood by the statement. – Parliamentary Bureau

Source: RDM News Wire.If Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard “feels threatened by a statement of self-affirmation then it is unfortunate”.

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