This is my take on General Riah Phiyega’s announcement that Lt General Mzwandile Petros was being replaced as Gauteng police commissioner by Lt General Mondli Zuma:
Firstly, I think replacing Petros is a mistake. I have said it publicly and I repeat it.
Petros is a dedicated and committed police officer. He was committed to fighting crime and corruption. He must be credited for starting sector policing in Gauteng after running a pilot project in the Western Cape. It’s now national.
Petros took no nonsense. He constantly came down hard on his members – and that’s why I am not surprised the unions are happy seeing him go.
I’ve worked closely with Petros especially in my role as head of Crime Line and chairman of the Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT). Lead SA has also engaged him on initiatives such as Drug Watch.
Petros valued partnerships with civil society and the community at large.
The Gauteng Community Police Board also wanted Petros to stay. It’s chairman, Andy Mashaile, is also on record as saying CPF’s wanted to retain Petros as the provinces number one cop.
Phiyega’s announcement today that Zuma was to replace Petros with immediate effect took many by surprise.
Within an hour, reports starting emerging that Zuma was facing a criminal charge for drinking and driving.
Phiyega said later she was not aware of this.
It has to be asked: How can our country’s top cop not have been aware that one of her trusted officers was awaiting trial?
EWN’s Mandy Weiner tweeted: “@MandyWiener: Lots of noise about new GP Commissioner Mondli Zuma’s role in the Shell House shooting too – NB he was granted amnesty by the TRC.”
I asked the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee in Parliament, Annelize van Wyk, on Twitter, what her take was on Zuma’s appointment.
“@annelizevanwyk: It undermines the integrity message.”
Phiyega said earlier Lt Gen Zuma “is the epitome of a professional police officer.”
The DA and others have good reason to question Phiyega’s decision to appoint Zuma, who by the way is reportedly not related to President Jacob Zuma.
Surely, Phiyega needed to have done her homework before appointing Zuma. One has to wonder whether her political bosses ordered her to appoint Zuma, who was in-charge of the police at ORT International
Airport. He holds the rank of Major-General and is now a Lt General.
Phiyega has embarrassed herself and the police service.
It’s decisions like these that take the credibility of the police to even lower levels.
How can the community support Gauteng’s new top cop who has a cloud over his head?
I have reliably learned that some senior Gauteng cops are disillusioned following today’s announcement. The leadership of the Community Safety Board is also unhappy.
It may be argued that Zuma has not been convicted. Yes. But with such controversy, he should not have even been considered for this job.
We expected better from Phiyega and her bosses. You have messed up!
If you want the people of Gauteng to support the police, make the right decisions.
Let’s accept Petros is leaving and wish him well.
But, let his successor be credible, clean, non-controversial and a real crime and corruption fighter – not a controversial figure facing a criminal charge.
-This is my personal view.