Editor's noteOpinion

Phiyega hit by the top cop curse

BOY, what a ride the national police commissioner's job has been for Riah Phiyega.

Her arrival at the police service was not without attention: she was replacing Bheki Cele, who had quit the job under controversial and scandalous circumstances, and was the first woman commisioner appointed.

Before long, Phiyega was to realise this was a completely different challenge than she had experienced previously as group executive of Absa Bank and Transnet.

Apart from cleaning up the mess left behind by Cele, she arrived on the eve of the well-documented Marikana massacre.

But her toughest challenge was on the 31 August, when she fired General Mondli Zuma as new Gauteng police commissioner hours after appointing him when it was discovered he was facing criminal charges.

Zuma had replaced Lieutenant Mzwandile Petros, whose exit from the police service could have been handled better.

The shenanigan also came in the wake of another scandal – a revelation that thousands of police officers, including high ranking officials, had criminal records.

Phiyega blamed Zuma for not declaring his dirty past. However, the top cop also had a responsibility to check up on the person she was giving the responsibility of making Gauteng safe.

The national police commissioner job is cursed: Cele’s predecessor Jackie Selebi had left the big air-conditioned office in disgraceful fashion.

Marikana planted doubts about Phiyega’s suitability for the job, but the Zuma scandal raises serious questions about the head of the police services.

Politically motivated appointments are always going to backfire, whether the appointees are “my friends, finish and klaar”.

Phiyega should consider returning to the corporate world before losing the little reputation she still has.

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