Warring cops should heed the rules of the police watchdog
One of the first hot potatoes new Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula wrapped his chops around was the relationship between two important figures in his new portfolio.
"This needs to stop. You both have jobs to do and you need to get on and do your jobs," Mbalula told the acting national police commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, and the national director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, Robert McBride.
Mbalula no doubt thought he was taking matters in hand in his derring-do way but he may also have overstepped the line of propriety.
It's no secret that the relationship between McBride and Phahlane is nonexistent but, on the face of it, there is good reason for this.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is probing the acting commissioner on serious allegations of corruption relating to his previous role running SAPS forensic services.
Phahlane is now refusing to answer questions from Ipid, alleging the investigation is not independent and is being conducted by "unscrupulous investigators".
But there is little to suggest that Ipid is acting outside of its legislative mandate, which even permits the Ipid national director to initiate probes into possible internal corruption in the police.
As the spectacular fall of a succession of police commissioners has shown, there can be nothing more damaging to the police than allegations of corruption at the highest level.
What is most concerning is that South Africa's most senior police officer is refusing to co-operate with the Ipid probe, an act which would appear to breach the law.
Ipid is key to ensuring the extensive powers of the police are not abused. Mbalula should be supporting its watchdog role and instruct Phahlane to co-operate with the Ipid investigation rather than being seen to be sweeping aside these serious allegations as if they are a petty personal spat.