Storm brewing over Riah Phiyega

Riah Phiyega is accused of tipping off a provincial commissioner who is being investigated.

National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Questions are being raised on Friday about whether National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega should be suspended following revelations that she's now facing criminal charges.

She is accused of tipping off a provincial commissioner who is being investigated for being on the payroll of a drug lord.

But the police chief has rubbished these allegations.

Phiyega said she was merely getting answers to questions posed in Parliament.

The politician who asked the questions, the Democratic Alliance (DA)'s Dianne Kohler Barnard, is calling for a thorough investigation.

"We end up with these bizarre internal battles and people trying to protect other people and friends and political allies. That's what's crept into the SAPS [South African Police Service]."

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS)'s Johan Burger, a former policeman himself, stopped short of explicitly calling for Phiyega's suspension.

He says that would normally be the case.

"Irrespective of the rank of the particular officer involved, if serious allegations of criminal conduct are made against a police officer, that police officer should be suspended."

At the centre of latest scandal is acting Crime Intelligence boss Chris Ngcobo.

He was suspended earlier this week after it emerged he may have lied about his qualifications.