Saps' top brass shamed in Parly for backing Phiyega

The commissioners were summoned to explain themselves to the Police Portfolio Committee today.

FILE: South African National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The police's top brass have been publicly shamed in Parliament for closing ranks around National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega.

Angry Members of Parliament (MPs) said the country's provincial commissioners crossed into the realm of politics when they pledged support for Phiyega after the Marikana Commission recommended an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

The commissioners were summoned to explain themselves to the Police Portfolio Committee today.

MPs across the political spectrum laid into the police's senior management.

Portfolio Committee Chairperson Francois Beukman accused the officials of crossing the line.

"Leave the politics for the politicians."

One by one, the eight commissioners had to apologise to the committee and the president.

"On behalf of the province I come from, I would also like to apologise to the committee. Thank you."

South African Police Services (Saps) officials told MPs they issued the controversial statement to clarify perceptions about instability and disunity in the police service.

They maintain Phiyega did not sign off on the document, even though she chaired a meeting when the issue was discussed.

Officials claim she did not participate in the discussions.