Phahlane must explain why he shouldn't be suspended - Mbalula

Police minister says SAPS police commissioner "should be an angel"

Phahlane must explain why he shouldn't be suspended

Cape Town – Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane must explain why he shouldn't be suspended, said Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula on Thursday. This came as he announced the appointment of Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba as "interim acting" police commissioner. During the briefing, Mbalula thanked President Jacob Zuma "for his wisdom" in appointing Mothiba - who sat next to him during the briefing.

Phahlane, whose term as acting police commissioner came to an end on Thursday, is facing serious allegations which impact on his fitness to hold office, said Mbalula.

"Lieutenant General Phahlane has a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty," Mbalula said.

The minister said he believes that Phahlane and the police will be better served if he is afforded the time to deal with the allegations against him. He will return to the post he held before but must provide an explanation on why he shouldn't be suspended.

Mbalula said he had to look at the legalities of acting against Phahlane because no one leaves without a fight.

"We had to apply our mind, and not think on our feet," he said.

"It is in the best interest of the [police] force that we act in this manner," he said.

IPID investigation  

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is investigating Phahlane for corruption and money laundering. Phahlane launched a counter-offensive, accusing IPID of not being independent and being controlled by outsiders.

Mbalula said he is also concerned about the allegations of misconduct against IPID.

"IPID is required to perform its duties with the utmost integrity," he said.

IPID is, however, not under investigation.

Meanwhile, suspended police commissioner Riah Phiyega's term will come to an end on June 10.

"By August, we should have a national police commissioner in the Republic of South Africa," said Mbalula.

A board of inquiry found Phiyega unfit to hold office as police commissioner in the wake of the Marikana massacre, a decision she had challenged in court.

Asked about the scandals that followed the national police commissioners ever since Jackie Selebi, Mbalula said the Selebi case should be an example for those who follow him to not be corrupted once they reach office.

He said the police commissioner "should be an angel".

"You must be fit and proper."

Mothiba thanked Zuma for appointing him and said he will meet with Mbalula shortly to get his "marching orders".

"My role is to fight crime, that is why I'm here," he said.

Mbalula also wants the disciplinary hearing of former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli to expedited. He was suspended six years ago, after being charged with several crimes, including murder.