MPs grill top cops in Parliament for supporting Phiyega

The country's top cops had to explain to Parliament why they publicly supported Riah Phiyega.

FILE: South African National police commissioner Riah Phiyega. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The country's provincial police commissioners came under fire from members of Parliament (MPs) for publicly supporting embattled top cop, Riah Phiyega.

The police board of commissioners has been severely criticised for issuing a statement endorsing Phiyega's leadership after the Marikana commission of inquiry recommended an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

The president gave Phiyega until the end of last month to comment on the Farlam commission of inquiry's report into the massacre.

Parliament's police portfolio committee issued a stern statement last week warning police management to focus on combating crime and to stay out of politics.

They were summoned to Parliament to explain why a statement was issued in their name earlier this month.

In the statement, the police board of commissioners expressed concern about the prevailing unfair and largely negative attitude towards Phiyega.

The police's head of communications, Solomon Makgale, told the police portfolio committee this morning that a decision to issue the statement was taken when the board met last month.

Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald wasn't satisfied with his response.

"Somebody, a human being must have instructed it, and please can we get the name of that human being? Thank you, it's as simple as that."

MPs wanted to know who instructed Makgale to issue the controversial statement.

"The National Commissioner did not sign off on this particular statement."

Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard described the provincial commissioners as Phiyega's praise singers.

"Yes, she was in the meeting, that was finally confessed. Now we are hearing, yes she sat there, while her praise singers worked out how to make her life better."

Other MPs have asked for the minutes of the meeting, while committee members have asked the commissioners to withdraw the statement.