cele to name new top cops

KWAZULU-NATAL and Mpumalanga have new police commissioners from today.

National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele is expected to announce the appointment of the new heads at a breakfast briefing today.

The appointments were due to be made on November 1.

Former KwaZulu-Natal police head Hamilton Ngidi retired in September when his contract expired.

Bongani Ntanjana was appointed acting commissioner.

Ngidi, 61, had been a policeman since 1969 and served in the former KwaZulu homeland police.

He was appointed provincial commissioner in 1999 when the KwaZulu-Natal government was still controlled by the IFP.

The ANC took over the control of the province in 2004.

Rex Machabi has been acting commissioner in Mpumalanga since Afrika Khumalo "retired" in March last year.

Bheki Cele's spokesperson, Nonkululeko Mbatha, said the new commissioners were not appointed at the prescribed dates because of issues that needed to be ironed out. She did not say what the issues were.

"Also there are processes that have to be followed before such announcements can be made," Mbatha said.

"For instance, the cabinet has to be briefed on the matter, which is likely to happen today (yesterday).

"Then the announcement will be made by the commissioner tomorrow (today)," Mbatha said.

Meanwhile, the DA in KwaZulu-Natal has advised Cele to enure the process of appointing Ngidi's replacement is free of political interference.

DA community safety and liaison spokesperson Sizwe Mchunu called for "a selection process governed by merit, competency and a keen awareness of the unique dynamics within the province".

Mchunu expressed concern over the timing of Ngidi's departure.

"The DA would prefer to have seen the former commissioner stay on until after the 2010 Soccer World Cup, to ensure a smoother process.

"But, our primary concern now is that the procurement and appointment of his successor remains free of any form of political interference."

He said it was crucial the new commissioner was able to "hit the ground running".