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Making the right choices
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 00:00
Written by Martin Czernowalow
Filling the post of national commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) would always be a tricky endeavour, given the shenanigans of the two previous incumbents.
Logic dictates that anyone appointed to this key post would have to be squeaky-clean and beyond reproach. They would not only have to stand up to close scrutiny of their values, character and abilities, they would also need to possess the leadership skills and moral fi bre to restore the shattered image of the police.
But alas, question marks already hang over Jacob Zuma’s newest top cop. Just as former national commissioner Bheki Cele was sent packing, hopefully with his stomach in and chest out, trouble already seems to be brewing around his replacement, General Riah Phiyega.
Scarcely three weeks into her appointment and concerns have already arisen about Phiyega’s ties to a company that supplies IT equipment to the SAPS, which potentially presents a conflict of interest.
Phiyega was a director of Kapela Capital, a subsidiary of Kapela Holdings, which owns 40% of XON. The latter has been supplying the police with equipment since 2003 and continued to do so after Kapela’s investment in July 2010.
Upon her appointment as the country’s top cop, Phiyega reportedly resigned from Kapela and has instructed that her stake in the company be disposed of, but this process is likely to take some time.
What’s worse is that her link with Kapela has not only raised concerns over a potential conflict of interest, it was also not disclosed to Parliament, having been omitted from her CV when it was presented to the portfolio committee.
ITWeb broke the story recently, prompting XON to release a statement sternly denying that there can be any conflict of interest. The company bases its reasoning on the fact that Phiyega resigned her positions at Kapela, effective 12 June (a day before her appointment as SAPS commissioner was announced) and because she asked Kapela to sell her shares.
Unfortunately, as pointed out by Democratic Alliance shadow police minister Dianne Kohler Barnard, Phiyega’s links with XON raise red flags, as these were not disclosed to Parliament and she could still have a relationship with her former colleagues.
Links between SAPS members, the State IT Agency (SITA) and procurement irregularities are nothing new either. A risk assessment report into SITA and its procurement processes uncovered some disturbing links between suppliers, front companies and senior police officials, but this report was sadly buried by former public service and administration minister Richard Baloyi.
The bottom line is that in light of this, the antics of Cele and those of his predecessor, Jackie Selebi, can we really afford to have a police commissioner who is as much as perceived to be involved with something untoward? I don’t think so.
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