Thursday, 31 March 2022

Pretoria: President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced Sehlahle Fannie Masemola as the new National Police Commissioner.

Masemola carries the baton from General Khehla Sitole, who vacated the position on Thursday after reaching mutual consent with the President in February.

Making the announcement during an address to the nation on Thursday, President Ramaphosa said he believes Masemola is a “fit and proper” person for the role.

He said General Masemola has been a Deputy Police Commissioner with an outstanding record of achievements in policing across South Africa.

This, he said, included helping with the de-escalation of violence in KwaZulu-Natal after the first democratic elections in 1994, where he was stationed. Masemola also brings to this position his experience in drastically reducing cash-in-transit crimes in the period around 2016.

The incoming Commissioner also played a leading role in coordinating security for all elections since 1994 and all major events hosted by the country. Most recently, the General served the country as the chairperson of the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS) on COVID-19, which coordinated government’s efforts across different sectors nationally and internationally.

The President said the weight of the nation’s expectation resting on the Commissioner’s shoulders would only be matched by the amount of the support government would place at his disposal.

President Ramaphosa said: “[A] stable, capable and capacitated South African Police Service is our surest guarantee that our constitutional rights will not be violated by criminals.”

Government, he said, will be taking further steps to restore stability in the country’s security structures by filling critical vacancies in a number of agencies. These include the State Security Agency and Crime Intelligence.

He assured Masemola of Cabinet and government’s full support.

“I want to call on the leadership, as well as the rank and file, of the South African Police Service [SAPS] to pledge their support to you as well. You have the weight of the nation’s expectations resting on your shoulders, but I am confident you are more than up to this task and responsibility.

The President also called on South Africans to offer support to the National Commissioner.

“We can only eradicate crime if we work together,” he said.

Selection process

Masemola’s appointment is a culmination of the work done by a selection panel appointed by President Ramaphosa in February.

The panel comprised Prof Sydney Mufamadi as chairperson; Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga; Police Minister General Bheki Cele; Retired Former Police Commissioner George Fivaz, and Presidency, National Treasury and State Security Director-Generals Phindile Baleni, Dondo Mogajane, and Ambassador Thembisile Majola, respectively.

While 24 Lieutenants-General or higher were invited to apply for the job, five were shortlisted.

They were interviewed on what the President described as eight critical competencies. These were:

  • Strategic capability and leadership;
  • Programme and project management;
  • Financial management;
  • People management;
  • Community confidence level;
  • Change management;
  • Problem solving and analysis; and
  • Integrity.

“In addition to evaluating candidates on the basis of these competencies, the advisory panel assessed candidates within the broader societal, strategic, operational and reputational context of the SAPS.”

“The advisory panel was guided, in part, by the decisive role the police service has in respect of nation-building and the ongoing national efforts to strengthen democracy and to entrench the rule of law.

“The panel also noted the need to bring the police closer to the communities they serve and to rebuild the trust relationship.”

Strengthening the criminal justice system

The appointment is the latest in a series of commitments to strengthen the criminal justice system President Ramaphosa made in the 2022 State of the Nation Address.

During the address, the President said government would make resources available to recruit and train an additional 12 000 new police personnel to ensure that the SAPS urgently received the capacity it required.

In the past few weeks, government has reinforced the criminal justice system through the appointment of:

  • A new Head of the Investigating Directorate (ID) of the National Prosecuting Authority; Adv Andrea Johnson;
  • A new Director-General of State Security, Amb Thembisile Majola; and
  • Five permanent Directors of Public Prosecutions in five provinces where these positions had been occupied by Acting Directors.

The new directors are:

  • Adv NR Khanyane Mpumalanga;
  • Mr L Mzukisi , Northern Cape;
  • Adv N Somaru , Free State;
  • Adv N Bell, Western Cape; and
  • Adv Makhari-Sekhaolelo, North West.