'Phiyega has tendency to lash out at her critics'

Sapu has weighed in on the SMS fiasco involving Phiyega and DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard.

FILE: South African National police commissioner Riah Phiyega. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Policing Union (Sapu) claims National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega has a tendency to lash out at her critics.

The union has weighed in on the SMS fiasco involving Phiyega and Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament (MP) Dianne Kohler-Barnard.

I n response to Kohler-Barnard's comments during a TV interview last week, Phiyega sent her a text message that read, "I am black, proud, capable and get it clear you can take nothing from me, eat your heart out. I am not made by you and cannot be undone by you."

But this isn't the first time Phiyega has picked up the phone and personally responded to one of her critics, according to Sapu.

The union is suing Phiyega for damages after she sent a text message to its General Secretary Oscar Skommere late last year following comments he made about her leadership.

She accused him of being sexist after he said "if she feels it is hot in the kitchen she must do the honourable thing and move out of the kitchen."

At the time, Phiyega's spokesperson Solomon Makgale said the SMS was part of a private conversation and could not constitute defamation.

The union's Mpho Kwinika said, "Anybody who reflects on issues which are negative or have got a negative impact on he r, she doesn't use the communication department. She picks her phone herself and confronts those individuals and I can tell you it is an intimidating tactic."

Phiyega did not face questions about the text message she sent to Kohler-Barnard when she appeared before Parliament's Police Portfolio Committee on Wednesday, despite MPs expressing their shock over the issue the previous day.

The committee's chairperson Francois Beukman told her to seriously reflect on what she had done.

Phiyega said the SMS was a statement of self-affirmation and was not meant to be threatening nor for public distribution.