'Give me a chance'
Newly appointed national police commissioner Riah Phiyega walked away in 2005 from parastatal Transnet with R5-million - R4-million of which was for the termination of her five-year contract.
Though Phiyega's appointment this week was, according to President Jacob Zuma, largely based on her "significant" administrative skills, questions are being raised about just how much skill she will bring to one of the toughest jobs in South Africa.
In Zuma's announcement on Tuesday, he said that the police's financial and management services needed the more focused guidance that Phiyega would be able to give them.
Phiyega will also be responsible for shoring up internal leaks, which have led to a crippling war between senior police managers that has spilt over into the public domain.
But a closer examination of her time at Transnet shows that Phiyega was one of five executives who left the parastatal in 2005 with doubts being voiced about her capabilities.
Employed on a five-year contract as group executive for corporate services, Phiyega ostensibly resigned from Transnet after current Absa CEO Maria Ramos left the Treasury as director-general to become Transnet CEO in 2004.
Phiyega was responsible for strategic direction setting, communications and corporate policy guidance.
Ramos embarked on a massive clean-up of parastatals, which led to an exodus of non-performing executives .
According to Transnet's 2005 annual report, Phiyega had a R1.2-million annual package.
She was given a termination package of R4-million. Transnet's group executives were employed on five-year fixed-term contracts.
Shortly after her Transnet departure, Phiyega was named National Development Agency head.
But again she found herself out in the cold when it was revealed that neither Phiyega nor the agency's board had been told of her appointment.
Then social development minister Zola Skweyiya - who had announced her appointment - was called on to explain the move after the parliamentary portfolio committee on social development discovered the process had yet to be finalised.
Phiyega never spent a day in the National Development Agency office.
During this time, the DA alleged Phiyega's chances had been scuppered after her former Transnet boss, Ramos, had informed the cabinet that she thought Phiyega was "unsuitable" for the job.
Phiyega seemingly recovered quickly, finding a job at Absa a month later as group consultant for BEE and government relations.
But her stint at Absa was short-lived. Ramos followed her to the bank after being appointed CEO.
Then, in 2009, came the announcement that Zuma had appointed Phiyega to chair a panel to review all state-owned enterprises.
It was meant to run parallel to a similar review set up by then public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan. But Phiyega's review replaced Hogan's.
According to an insider who had been asked to work for the panel, Phiyega and her team were "out of their depth" and "chaotic".
"The politically connected Phiyega, who is a nice lady with good qualifications, and her panel worked out of the CSIR's offices and brought in the Human Sciences Research Council to help with project management as well as a group of consultants.
"After two years, no report was ever compiled on the state of SA's parastatals," said the source.
But yesterday, at her first media outing in Pretoria as the country's top cop, Phiyega promised to live up to the task of her new appointment.
"While I have never been a police officer, I say that you do not need to be a drunkard to own a bottle store. "My hand is going to be held and I must be judged on my performance.
"Give me a chance," she said.
Phiyega has promised to come down hard on corruption and to carry out her tasks "diligently".
"It will not be easy and there will be many challenges, but it is something I can do.
"I have faith in my abilities and I am bringing something to the organisation.
"I have plans and these will be delivered on, including building up training and the image of the police.
"I have been entrusted with this job which will need a 'Red Bull' to complete," Phiyega promised.