After weeks of silence and rumours about the imminent dismissal of the country’s top cop, President Jacob Zuma has fired suspended police chief, Bheki Cele.
“I have decided to release General Cele from his duties,” Zuma told a specially convened news conference in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Cele was suspended in October last year following the public protector Thuli Madonsela’s damning finding that his involvement in a highly controversial leasing deal involving two police buildings “was unlawful and amounted to maladministration”.
Following these findings, Zuma then appointed a board of inquiry led by Judge Jake Moloi to establish whether Cele was fit to hold office.
Zuma thanked Cele for his commitment to the fight against crime and said “the reports of the public protector and that of the board of inquiry indicate deficiencies administratively and in particular in relation to General Cele’s duties as an accounting officer”.
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Zuma said, the board had found Cele to be unfit for office and had recommended his removal.
“Having thoroughly considered the reports of the board and applied my mind I have decided to release General Cele from his duties,” the President said.
The new national police commissioner is Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega, Zuma said. “It is my pleasure to announce the new national police commissioner today who takes office with immediate effect. ”
“She is Ms Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega, who is currently the chairperson of the Presidential Review Committee on State Owned Enterprises and the deputy chairperson of the Independent Commission on the Remuneration of Office Bearers” Zuma said.
Phiyega is seen as a technocrat with no police experience and some say she has been handed out a poisoned chalice.
The police services has been hit with turmoil over the last few months.
Cele, appointed in 2009 was known for his flamboyant hats and colorful suits.
South Africa’s former police chief Jacky Selebi was last year sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
Zuma also announced a minor cabinet reshuffle.
The DA’s Diane Kohler-Barnard welcomed the appointment and said the new commissioner is “educated but has zero police experience”
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