Corruption Watch welcomes the appointment of the new South African Police Service national commissioner, Lt-General Khehla Sithole, with cautious optimism.  We have called for the new commissioner to be experienced in police service and we are pleased to note General Sithole’s long record of service and vast experience. Lt-General Sithole, who joined the police service in 1986, is the first permanent national commissioner since Riah Phiyega’s suspension in 2015, and he is the first career police officer to be appointed since General George Fivaz stepped down in 2000. While media reports suggest that there is no evidence that the new commissioner lacks integrity or skills, there is still concern that President Jacob Zuma did not act on the recommendations of the National Development Plan that call for a transparent and merit-based recruitment process in the appointment of this critical post. Lt-General Sithole is the sixth national commissioner to be appointed by Zuma. The majority of the previous commissioners lacked both the necessary skills and expertise, resulting in a crisis of leadership that has had a devastating effect on public safety, with murder and aggravated robbery on the rise in the last few years. Corruption Watch contends that a transparent, merit-based recruitment process involving public participation would have allowed both the public and police officials to be better apprised of the abilities and characteristics that the new national commissioner will bring to the job. Earlier this year Corruption Watch and the Institute for Security Studies launched a public awareness campaign calling for a more transparent and inclusive selection process for the appointment of both the national commissioner and the head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, also known as the Hawks. The organisation congratulates Lt-General Sithole on his appointment, and urges him to restore integrity to the police service and to take seriously his task of tackling the crime and corruption that is currently crippling our society. Corruption Watch and the Institute for Security Studies will continue to campaign around issues pertaining to the upcoming appointment of the head of the Hawks, as well as shine a spotlight on the corruption taking place in the police service.

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Phemelo Khaas                 phemelok@corruptionwatch.org.za        +27 83 763 3472 • Image source: The Presidency.