Pretoria seeks to appoint black police generals

THE South African government, admitting for the first time to the collapse of confidence in its blighted police force, yesterday purged senior officers who have failed to adapt to post-apartheid politics and established an independent unit to investigate policemen accused of serious crimes such as murder and obstructing justice. In a radical move, the Law and Order Minister, Hernus Kriel, also announced a 'positive discrimination' policy rapidly to promote blacks previously banned from senior positions.

Thirteen of the 55 generals in the South African Police have been sacked as the government tries to rescue the credibility of a force whose standing is lower among blacks now than when the police was a vigorous enforcer of apartheid.

As the shake-up was announced, it was confirmed that a dozen people have died in attacks on commuter trains around Johannesburg this week amid accusations that the police failed to disarm the attackers.

Doubts are now so widespread that even the white community has started questioning police actions, particularly after a leading pathologist revealed a month ago the large numbers of prisoners killed in police custody. This week it was revealed that since the beginning of August at least 14 more people have died in police cells.

The Police Commissioner, Johan van der Merwe, said he backed change because he had read in the papers that his force has an image problem. Mr Kriel was more willing to acknowledge what he described as the need to bridge the gap between the police and 'certain communities'.

'It's not too late to restore confidence. It's a process of changing the hearts and minds of the police,' he admitted.

Mr Kriel said the prohibition on non-whites in the general staff has been lifted and his force is looking for a new breed of general. He confessed that he would like to be able immediately to promote a black person to general, but that none were to hand. Non-whites will be sent on intensive training courses with the first black general likely to be appointed before the end of October.

The government also plans a new unit to investigate police crimes. Mr Kriel said it would be independent, although its board will consist of three senior policemen, the Attorney General and a judge. Inspectors will be drawn from the police, intelligence service, lawyers and foreign experts but, officially at least, will only be answerable to the board.

The ANC described the reforms as no more than a facelift which do not come close to meeting demands for joint oversight of the security forces. But the government's admission that the police force is seriously flawed will ease some of the tensions delaying the resumption of negotiations.

But for those wanting to know if the nature of the beast has changed, it will not go unnoticed that among those officers named for promotion is General Koos Calitz, who last week was widely criticised for what amounted to anti-ANC political pronouncements during an investigation into the murder of a white farmer who had helped expose a police hit squad in the eastern Cape.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory