South African President Jacob Zuma chooses new Police Chief

Friday, July 31, 2009

The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, has chosen a new National Police Chief. Provincial transport minister Bheki Cele will replace Jackie Selebi, who is awaiting the outcome on charges of corruption.

Zuma said in a statement to the press that the appointment is "integral" to the government's plan of reducing the country's crime levels within five years. South Africa has a high crime rate and, on average, has nearly 50 murders a day.

"I would like one day for a young girl to be able to walk alone from a nightclub or elsewhere without any fear of attack, abuse or rape. You can't be soft, you can't be moving around kissing crime. You need to be tough because you are dealing with tough guys," Zuma said to reporters at a press conference.

Former Chief Selebi was suspended in early 2008 over claims that he accepted payments of 1.2 million rand ($133,000) from Glenn Agliotti, who was convicted of drug smuggling. Authorities claim Selebi also housed and protected a drug lord.

Opposition leaders criticized Celen's appointment as Police Chief, calling it a political stunt. They state that Celen has never worked on a police force and will lack the ability to reduce crime.