JOHANNESBURG - Newly appointed national police commissioner Mangwashi “Riah” Phiyega told Eyewitness News she hopes she and her new team will succeed in creating a safe South Africa.
She chuckled in response to being called “General” and said she was humbled by the opportunity to serve in the police service and by the “vote of confidence” in her abilities to perform in her new post.
She said she understands the great responsibility given to her.
The new commissioner inherits a poisoned chalice and will have to work hard to ensure she remains beyond reproach.
Colleagues who had previously worked under Phiyega praised the businesswoman, but others are not convinced she is the right person for the job.
President Jacob Zuma announced Bheki Cele’s dismissal as police chief on Tuesday and told media Phiyega would succeed him.
Many who know the first female police commissioner believe she will bring professionalism and efficiency to the position, but there are others who believe a career police officer should be chief.
Dr Mamphela Ramphele has led the charge.
She asked if Phiyega had passed that mandatory police competency test.
Phiyega said she was aware of the daunting task.
She hails from Polokwane in Limpopo and is the current chairperson of the Presidential Review Committee.
She has a Masters Degree in Social Sciences, and previously served as Absa chairperson and worked for the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) task team.
According to the president, Cele's downfall was as a result of his administrative conduct in the police headquarters deal.
In 2011, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released a damning report into Cele's conduct during the procurement process of two police buildings.
She found the Pretoria and Durban deals to be unlawful and questioned the former top cop's conduct.
A board of inquiry was then established by Zuma to probe allegations into Cele's conduct.
The inquiry, chaired by Judge Jake Moloi, found Cele guilty of maladministration and recommended that he be fired.
Zuma overlooked Nhlanhla Mkwananzi to replace Cele.
Mkwananzi was appointed as acting police commissioner after Cele’s suspension.
(Edited by Thato Motaung)