New police chief to 'steer Saps in the right direction'

The ISS says Phahlane’s first job is to unite management towards a goal.

Johannes Khomotso Phahlane. Picture: Gallo Images/Foto24 /Brendan Croft.

PRETORIA - The man roped in to fill Riah Phiyega's post for now has been warned he's got his work cut out for him.

Lieutenant-General Kgomotso Phahlane has assumed the role of National Police Commissioner after Phiyega was suspended on Wednesday.

A board of inquiry into her fitness to hold office will now determine her future.

Phahlane said he respects President Jacob Zuma's decision and he's ready to steer the police in the right direction.

The Institute for Security Studies Gareth Newham said Phahlane's first job is to unite management towards a goal.

"His immediate challenges would be to show that there's leadership coherence among all the deputy national commissioners, the divisional commissioners and the provincial commissioners, ensuring that they need to realise that their focus now must be completely on getting on top of the violent crime."

Phahlane is a career police officer and as divisional commissioner of forensic services with more than 20 years of service, he would have earned respect of his peers.

He has worked his worked his way through the police ranks since the early 1990s and has held senior manager positions in the latter part of his career.

He obtained a police administration national diploma in 1992, and has since obtained certificates in management services as well as business management.

Prior to his appointment as head of forensic services, Phahlane was for three years divisional commissioner responsible for personnel management but has also been responsible for police basic training.

In 2013, he took on police union Popcru, which he sued along with three junior officers for defamation after he was accused of being responsible for corruption in his department.

Popcru described the litigation as a cheap political stunt it remains to be seen whether his appointment as acting national commissioner will warm relations with the police's majority union.

Listen to Xolani Gwala interview with EWN's Barry Bateman on Phahlane appointment:

PHIYEGA'S SUSPENSION, A LITTLE TOO LATE

Miners from Marikana say Phiyega's suspension is too little too late and other political heavy weights should also take responsibility for the killings in 2012.

Three months after the report was released, Zuma decided to suspend her pending the outcome of an inquiry, which has already been set up, but it's unclear when it will commence.

The Farlam Commission of Inquiry raised concerns in its final report about Phiyega's conduct at the hearings, saying she withheld evidence and recommended that she be investigated.

Attorney Andries Mkome who represents the miners says while they welcome the suspension, they believe it's not enough.

"We agree that it is good, but we also say that it is not enough. Our clients' view is that it's too little too late. There ought to have been more done at an earlier stage."

Phiyega was appointed as police commissioner in 2012 shortly before the Marikana shooting.

However, her conduct at the commission of inquiry and her statements defending the police have been highly criticised.

The Democratic Alliance says her appointment was a mistake from the very beginning while the African National Congress says the president has now taken action and he should be commended.

The Marikana miners however say Phiyega shouldn't be the only one held responsible.

Mkome said, "She should not be made a scapegoat because she just happens to be a political lightweight. She shouldn't have lied in front of the commission simply because she was protecting heavier police people."

Meanwhile, the ANC has commended President Zuma for suspending Phiyega, while the opposition party maintains her appointment was a mistake in the first place.