S. African MPs urge Zuma to appoint police chief

South Africa Police Picture Courtesy – Reuters

Amid a rise in violent crimes, South African Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday urged President Jacob Zuma to appoint the National Commissioner of Police, a post that has been vacant for two years.

The appointment of the National Commissioner of Police by the president “is of vital importance in dealing with the challenges affecting policing in South Africa,” Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police said.

This came after Police Minister Fikile Mbalula told the committee that South Africa has seen a rise in violent crimes in the 2016/2017 financial year, with murders and aggravated robberies up 1.8 percent and 6.4 percent respectively.

“The Committee is concerned that the trio of crimes have increased, with carjacking increasing by 14.5 percent, robbery at residential premises increased by 7.3 percent, and robbery at non-residential premises increases by 5 percent,” Committee Chairperson Francois Beukman said.

Beukman emphasized that the increase in murder nationally is a huge concern and indicative of the level of violence in society.

He indicated that the South African Police Service (SAPS) lacked a stable and effective leadership, which he said “is critical to address the challenges.”

The SAPS has been without the National Commissioner of Police since October 2015 when Zuma sacked Riah Phiyega pending the outcome of inquiry into allegations of misconduct, her fitness to hold office and her capacity to execute official duties efficiently.

Phiyega is blamed for defects in police tactical plan which were believed to be among the factors that led to the Marikana tragedy in which 44 people were killed during mining unrest in Marikana near Rustenburg, North West Province in 2012.

Two persons have been named acting National Commissioner of Police, with the latest being Lesetja Mothiba.