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With the divided ranks of the forces of law and order engaged in what appears to be a time- and resources-wasting internal war, we pose the question of whether this country’s policing has not lost its track.
Certainly, the bitter battles being fought by the head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), Robert McBride, and acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane would tend to suggest a concentration on matters other than straight policing.
McBride, a former Umkhonto weSizwe operative sentenced to death, but who was later given reprieve while on death row, has proved himself a formidable force in the tangled warp and weft of the political tapestry.
He survived gun-running charges while a high ranking official in the department of foreign affairs and drunken driving charges while head of the Ekurhuleni metro police, before being appointed to his present position.
He is lined up against Phahlane, who lifted the poisoned chalice as top man in the SA Police Service, as the former head of the SAPS forensic service from 2012 to October 2015.
He is the latest in line following former commissioner and head of Interpol, the late Jackie Selebi, being jailed for corruption, Bheki Cele being suspended for corruption in 2011 and sacked in 2012, and Riah Phiyega’s October 2015 suspension by President Jacob Zuma following a recommendation of the commission of inquiry into the 2012 Marikana massacre.
Now Phahlane and McBride have squared off before the parliamentary portfolio committee on police over allegations the police were actively interfering with a probe into the commissioner’s perceived relationship with police service providers.
The issue remains unresolved, a he said, she said debate, but one that does policing little service.