About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

26 Sep 2000: Fivaz, George

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POM     I'll tell you the four areas I think that I want to look at. I'm doing this in the context of police reform. One is the challenges you faced when you became Commissioner in bringing about the transformation of the Police Service. Two, the lessons you learnt during that process, lessons that you would pass on to other countries going through a process of transformation of a similar type. Three, if you had to do things again what would you do differently? And four, how do you deal with the problems of changing what I call a 'police culture' versus changing the operational and management structures? So perhaps we start with the challenges you faced.

GF     You see I think what is well known to you is basically the history of our country, that over the years in this country of ours they have not only separated by means of government policy certain sectors of the community as a result of race but they have separated police services and police structures as well. The end result was really eleven police forces totally independent in the so-called homelands in the old South African Republic and those eleven police forces had to be restructured, rationalised and eventually we had to apply all sorts of new recipes and new approaches to do that because in my mind there were not many replicas of the South African experience in the world so it was a tremendous challenge in the sense that we had to redesign the wheel in terms of policing. All countries outside SA I think were for quite some time already busy with the principle of community oriented policing and the whole principle of democratic policing. In SA that was a completely new dimension. Now in the minds of numbers of people in our country, politicians, police officers themselves, there were differences of opinion: what is community policing supposed to be; what is democratic policing supposed to be and what are you supposed to do to all these police structures of the past to make them democratic structures and to make them community oriented police structures?

POM     Let me just take you back a step. All of the eleven police departments, each of those was protected by the sunset clauses in the interim constitution in that you couldn't lay off a policeman, you had to take the whole -

GF     You couldn't, up to today. Up to today you couldn't. You just can't lay off police officers from the very beginning. You are right, from the first stages of negotiation there were the sunset clauses and those people were protected. In the interim constitution those people were protected. All the personnel had to be amalgamated into the new South African police service. There was no provision for retrenchment packages or severance packages or lay-off packages or whatever the case may be. So you had to take those people into the new South African Police Service as a given, those were the material, you as the new Commissioner had to design processes to rationalise and to amalgamate and to transform.

POM     So say I was a Captain, I don't know whether there was a rank of Captain, say an Inspector in say KZN, and would I then automatically become an Inspector in the new South African Police Service even though my qualifications might be entirely different than an Inspector who would have been located in the SAP itself?

GF     Yes, for sure. You see at that stage it was already a pre-requisite in the old SAP that you have to have at least Standard 10 to become an officer. You must attend certain officer's courses if you want to upgrade yourself in terms of a Major, Lieutenant-Colonel, a Colonel or whatever the case may be. In some of the homelands those requirements were applicable but it wasn't really enforced so the end result was really that numbers of commissioned officers were amalgamated in the new SAPS without matric, without any officer's course, without any type of bridging courses between various ranks and whatever the case may be. So the quality varied tremendously. In the case of the old SAP numbers of people had matric. In the case of, for instance, KZN I think you can still remember the incident – I dismissed about 1300 police officers right at the beginning because they were recruited after the process of amalgamation started by the old authority of KZN and they were under training but they were sort of recruited from the street without any criteria at all and none of them had matric. It created a lot of tension, those people were dismissed, but it happened in the past in those countries or so-called countries very frequently that people were recruited without qualifications on the basis of nepotism. Numbers of them were recruited in terms of the blood line of certain ethnic groups, numbers of them were recruited just because they are well known to certain politicians and whatever the case may be without any qualifications. They ended up and they were sort of promoted through the system and when the amalgamation process started numbers of those people were already commissioned officers without training, without qualifications and they are still in the SAPS today because they were recruited and their services were retained as a result of the sunset clauses in the interim constitution. Those were the set of facts, qualifications varied, the total process of recruitment varied from agency to agency, the courses that came in, whatever the case may be, and the end result a lot of people not really on the same level.

POM     Let me take it aspect by aspect. On the one hand you had what were called the Security Police and on the other what would be called the 'normal' police.

GF     Yes.

POM     Now did you by and large have to – what did you do with the Security Police who were now no longer required in the numbers that they had been previously employed in? How did you re-deploy them?  Were they retrained? One always hears the story that in the old days if you were in the Security Police the way you got a conviction was you nabbed your suspect and you beat a confession out of him and you gave the confession to the judge and the judge said guilty and that took care of that case. Now you have to investigate, produce evidence, go through –

GF     The one thing I never did was to tell ex-Security Police officers you must get out of the Police Service. During my term of office up to the very last day I tried to convince the powers that be, the government as well as the police structures, those people really were the victims of circumstances. They were employed in a specific manner by the previous government and the previous government expected certain outcomes from those people. One of the things I'm still very frustrated, and I think a number of security officers of the past are very frustrated with, is the fact that the old government sort of turned their back on those people because they used those people for their own benefit to keep themselves in their seats, the old government, and later on they just chucked those people out into the dark. So I think numbers of those people resigned, numbers of them.

POM     They actually resigned?

GF     They resigned out of free will, they were not forced, they were not chucked.

POM     But they got no retrenchment packages, they just got their pension up to - ?

GF     They never received retrenchment packages, the just resigned because they thought by themselves there is not going to be any space for me in this new dispensation. Later on the government created a new mechanism to retrench people and we call it in SA 'voluntary severance packages'. So numbers of the old police structures took severance packages.

POM     That would mean get a lump sum?

GF     You will get a lump sum and you will get –

POM     - your full pension.

GF     Yes, once off lump sum and if you have ten years or more service you will get free medical support for the rest of your life and that type of thing. So very decent.

POM     And would you get your full pension too?

GF     You will get an amount calculated by an Actuary on the basis of years of service completed and then you will receive an additional five years and you are entitled to your accumulated leave, you are entitled to six months motor car allowance if you are entitled to a motor car, and if you are a person with ten years or more service you are entitled to your medical support service for the rest of your life. So it's a very decent package. That came afterwards.

     But you asked the question what happened to those people that stayed in the Police Service. Those people were in many cases re-deployed. In many cases one of the Deputy National Commissioners of the SA police now is Commissioner, Andre Pruis, he's an old Security Police Officer. He is today the Deputy National Commissioner of Operations in SA. So many of them stayed, they were re-deployed. Numbers of them were not re-deployed in terms of a new position in the Police Service, they were redirected in the sense that those people were given a new job description. We were saying from the very beginning, in the previous dispensation, the whole issue of politics and the focus of police officers on politics should be moved to crime. So you had a position in the past of a police officer focusing for instance on the ANC, and they called it the ANC Desk of the old Security Police. So there were a number of Security Police officers responsible to know everything about the ANC, their training, their movements, their going out and coming into the country and all those aspects were their responsibility. Now I really argued if you have those skills to focus on the movements of people, on the movements of goods relating to those people, if you can shift the mindset of those people to focus on crime in the same way you are going to redirect that ex-Security Police officer into an operational police officer focusing on crime intelligence, gathering crime intelligence instead of intelligence on the political movement of people and goods.

POM     Did you have specifically designed programmes to bring that about?

GF     For sure.

POM     Did you bring in specialists from outside? How did you go about that?

GF     We utilised the services of many, many countries to do exactly that, the Americans, the British people, the French and we really scrutinised the crime intelligence systems and structures and training of those people and you will find that from the very beginning we have also taken on board those old Security Police officers and we were very open minded and frank and open with those people, saying of course you can't continue as you were in the past, we will have to make amendments and we will have to apply change management and transformation to your environment as well. What we need in SA is really crime intelligence, good crime intelligence, because in the past we have neglected crime intelligence in toto.

POM     So if you were advising, let's say, the British government which is now moving to implement a whole series of, comprehensive series of police reforms that came out of the Patten Commission, what would you do – and you've got to accomplish a couple of things and I want to put this in that context. One, you've a police force that's 90% Protestant, 10% Catholic so the aim is within five years to make it 40%/60%. I don't know whether that's achievable, probably, not but that's the aim. Two, the senior structures are – well there are no Catholics really in the system. Three, a considerable number of those in the RUC were on what would be called 'the IRA Desk' and therefore didn't have to use normal policing practices.

GF     It's exactly the same scenario as we had in SA with the old Security Police.

POM     So you moved them to crime intelligence? But you used their intelligence capacity –

GF     And skills.

POM     - and skills.

GF     And skills. You see because it's not every police officer that is really interested and that will have the capacity and the ability to become a crime intelligence officer because you have to gather crime intelligence, you have to know exactly what to gather and what to look for and on what to focus and how to collate and how to really digest eventually usable crime intelligence for the operator outside. And it's still a problem in SA. It's not a matter of we've started with the process in 1995 and in 1996 we had a tremendous crime intelligence capacity available. It will take you about five years to train and to redirect those people to become proper crime intelligence officers.

POM     Does that redirection involve courses which say – well when you were after the ANC you didn't have to follow normal policing procedures, you just got your guy, that was your job. But now when you gather intelligence and you go to arrest or bust a criminal you can't just beat him up, extract a confession, pull him in, because he's going to walk. You've got to collect the evidence, you've got to back up your case.

GF     For sure.  The art is really you have to gather court directed intelligence because eventually you must take somebody, as a police officer you must take somebody to court. You can't just gather crime intelligence for the hell of it. It must be court directed intelligence.

POM     Court directed?

GF     Yes court. So eventually it must stand the test of time in a criminal court. What you are supposed to do really in terms of crime intelligence gathering, you must know as a crime intelligence operator I am going to gather and eventually what I have I am going to pass over to an operator, a detective. That detective in conjunction with me we are going to decide what is now really court directed, where should the focus be, what should be gathered in addition to what we already have and how are we going to go about to take this person to court. So you can still have the undercover agent working crime intelligence without going to court because at one or other stage you are going to connect up with the detective or the operator who will take the case to court, who will do the arrest, who will complete the police docket and who will make sure that you have a successful prosecution in court with the Prosecutor. So it's a total process but what we have done really, we were frank and open. We told those people, listen here, the new direction will be – in the past you were part of the ANC Desk, the PAC Desk or whatever the case may be in Security Police. We are going to change the direction totally. If you are interested we are going to take you through the processes and you will become a crime intelligence agent. If you are not, there are many other positions in the Police Service, then we can talk, we can negotiate. We are not going to expect from you to stay in this environment. If you want to go over, there's a new system in the SAPS, you can apply for positions. If you want to apply to become an ordinary detective or Commander of Detective Services, if you already have a substantial rank you are welcome to do that, we are going to assist you to be moved over to ordinary police work, if you can call it ordinary police work. If you want to stay here we are going to redirect, we are going to give you new training, new direction, a new purpose, aim and objective.

POM     So what would happen, say, to a Security Force man who would say, well I'm not really interested in becoming part of a crime intelligence gathering unit but I would be interested in becoming a detective, and he applies to become a detective and you look at his credentials and say, well you just don't have the credentials to become a detective, you would have to take a course on this, a course on that, a course on the other. Would you then invest in him in retraining him?

GF     Sure.

POM     Even if he was a white officer as distinct from saying, well we've got to take our resources and we've got to apply it to affirmative action, we've got to apply it to training of blacks who haven't had the same education for policing?

GF     For sure. Absolutely. Exactly that has been done. You know you will find, we call it 'organised crime units' in the detective – because we must understand the structure of the SAPS very well. You have this National Police Service, you have a sort of an FBI structure that will be responsible for organised crime nationally and then you have your provincial detective structures responsible for local crime. You will find some of the organised crime units also at provincial level, working there, because they have to do it in conjunction with the central data base and the central capacity. So you will find that many of those detectives in those organised crime units were previously Security Police officers, many of them, because there is a link between what those people have been doing in the past in the Security Police Service and what you are doing in the investigation of organised crime because you have the same principles applicable. You have an organisation, you have an organisational structure, they are busy with something, in this case it's now organised crime, the pedalling of drugs, they are moving all around, they have their networks all over the globe. It's exactly like in the case of, say for instance, the ANC in the past. The principles are the same. So those people, I think what should happen in any police service facing the same problem, you must make provision in your structure to maintain and to retain the services of those people because they have special skills, they were recruited. Only a matter of redirection.

     I think the gravest of mistakes we made, we allowed for a certain period of time to many of those people to move out of the Police Service, they were not chucked out. That is one of the issues I think if I had to start all over again, from the very beginning I will make sure that I keep as many of those people as possible in the Police Service because they have special skills. They have special skills to gather intelligence, in the past political intelligence. Now we want criminal intelligence, crime intelligence. So it's a matter of redirection. If you lose the services of those people you are going to find yourself exactly in the same position as SA now, you will have to retrain, to recruit, to retrain new crime intelligence agents for four, five, six years before they are experts in their fields. So you have that gap and I think the normal pressure from governments will be to get rid of those people, get fresh people in. I think it's a grave mistake. I think you are going to throw the baby out with the bath water most definitely. Unfortunately it happened in SA, there was a sort of a skills brain drain for a period of time because people were very insecure, they were of the opinion the new dispensation is not going to use us, we don't have a place in the sun in the new dispensation. Those people must be new bred, new blood police officers coming from what? You don't get police officers from outer space, you have to recruit them as youngsters and you have to sort of groom them for the job and that takes years.

     So you ask me the question if I can start it all over again what will I do? I think I will most definitely convince my total structure to focus on this issue of skills drain to make sure that as few as possible people leave your service under circumstances like, for instance, Northern Ireland because it's possible, we are adaptable human beings. It's a matter of real absolute interest in the individual. You must make sure that those people are buying into the processes, they are on board and you must make sure, you as the employer, we have really comprehensive redirection programmes in place to redirect those people. You can't just chuck them out of the Police Service.

POM     Now moving to affirmative action. You're under a lot of direction to equalise the numbers or demographics or whatever, the management structures of the police which up to that point would have been mostly white. How do you manage this? On the one hand are you saying to your middle level white career officer, you may be stuck here for a while or you may be stuck for ever. On the other hand you're fast-tracking some black officers or constables up the scale. How do you manage that to ensure quality and to ensure lack of racial tension and to ensure that there is a spirit of camaraderie between the two? For example, in some cases in the civil service I've come across white civil servants who have told me they've brought in this black chap and told me I was to train him and I said to myself, why should I train him? I'm going to train him to take over my job, make myself redundant, so I'm not exactly going to throw all my enthusiasm into doing this.

GF     You see what is very unfortunate about a situation like the South African scenario is that you have black and white, that's very unfortunate. One would like to have a Police Service –

POM     But we've Catholic and Protestant, there will be much more Catholics coming.

GF     Yes, it's very important but you know it's there. It's a given fact, it's a point of departure. You must realise if you want to be acceptable to the community out there you must represent the community otherwise you are not going to do the job properly. If you take our situation, and I want to be very, very honest about it, look at the Western Cape, the Western Cape with its urban terrorism, the lack of proper crime intelligence, where does it come from? If you take the composition of the Western Cape Police Service, even the Crime Intelligence Division, you will find that most of those people are whites. How are you going to infiltrate the Muslims with white people in terms of crime intelligence? How are you going to get the confidence of those people if you want information to stop those bomb blasts and the urban terrorists? You can go all over SA, go to KZN, at one stage basically 90% of the detectives in KZN working with those ethnic problems and ethnic murders and whatever were whites. Very, very minute portions of the crime intelligence capacity and the detectives and whatever the case may be were Zulus. How are you going to infiltrate Inkatha Freedom Party or the ANC in KZN? With what? So what I am saying is, if you don't have a proper spread specifically in certain areas, you as a police officer must understand you are not going to really be as effective as you are supposed to be because you are not going to get what you need in terms of a solid base to do your police work on.

     So I think over and above the fact that you have this unfortunate situation of a majority of blacks and a minority of whites and you have to rectify the balance or the imbalance, and you in doing so are going to of course leave some of the whites lying bleeding and you are going to sort of make some of the blacks very happy, a lot of whites totally unhappy. But those are also given facts. I think the method behind this whole process should be to take your people along and to communicate with them and to tell them and the population out there as well, saying unfortunately we have this situation, it's our situation, and we have to move over to a situation of 75%/25% in the favour of blacks. Of course some of the whites are going to be disadvantaged and some of the blacks are going to be advantaged.

     But what happened in the Police Service? If you look at the last five years in SA you will find that we never had serious, I'm talking about serious, racial tension in the Police Service. We never had serious racial tension. I'm talking about serious racial tension. The SANDF, they have had three very serious shooting incidents over a very short period of time and I believe from my information I received during my term of office as National Commissioner, we had a number of very, very explosive situations in the SANDF in the past. Fortunately it never ended in the same tragedies as we had in those three cases. But you never had something like that in the Police Service. Why not? Because we are coming out of the same type of culture, a Police Service and a military environment. I think because we took our people along from the very beginning we created a total different dispensation than army.

     We said from the very first day people will apply for positions. We are going to have selection bards, we are going to look at a number of criteria. The first one will be competence, the other one will be the period in that specific job, suitability and all those issues, but one of the issues will most definitely be representivity and equal opportunities. In each and every one of those applications we are going to sit down as a panel, an independent panel, and we are going to scan and we are going to scrutinise and we are going to make known the end results eventually. And I think it's a more open process. It's not to say that people are not unhappy. I know people are unhappy. Blacks are unhappy, whites are unhappy. Some of the white people have been fast tracked. There are people, if you look once again at the Second Deputy National Commissioner, a man with the name of Eloff, some of his colleagues are still at the level of Director in the police, he's the Deputy National Commissioner, he has been fast tracked because he's competent and a number of others have been fast tracked, whites, it's not only blacks, but the vast majority of course are blacks.

POM     How do you deal with the problem of if you are required or under severe political pressure to fast track blacks at a rate that is greater than their capacity to deal with the fast tracking? In fact you're promoting them rather quickly, you train them and you're promoting them but they're not really fully trained so they're stepping into a job for which they may be two thirds prepared but not fully prepared so even though you're gaining in representation you're losing in efficiency.

GF     You see, Padraig, if you look at once again our South African situation you will find that some of our departments, and I want to mention one, Correctional Services, Correctional Services in my mind is in tatters. It's not only my personal opinion, it's the opinion of the President of the country as well because he appointed somebody completely from outside the other day to take over Correctional Services because nothing is really up to standard in that department any more. Why? Because they have done exactly what you are saying now. There was political pressure, maybe their minister of the past, I don't know, from where, because I also had a minister in the past from the same cabinet, but they promoted black people beyond their competence overnight. The whole senior structure of that department was sort of converted into a total black structure overnight. They took away some of the very important parts of the culture of any organisation like a semi or quasi military organisation, their rank structure, and they sort of created this incompetent structure. Some of those people are very good people but most of them are totally incompetent people. That department is absolutely one of the worst examples, I think, in SA of if you want to put pressure to bear on the system to create representivity overnight that is exactly what's going to happen.

     In the case of the SAPS, and I think some of the maybe negative publicity around myself was 'George Fivaz is an old timer' because he's not going to allow or he doesn't possess the ability to allow representivity to flow in his department because I kicked against the principle of pressurising the system, making sure that at least you have a person in the position with the ability and the potential, not necessarily the competency but the ability and potential to grow into a position and to find his or her feet in that position and to make sure that that person will eventually be a good Commander or a competent Commander. Then you make sure that there are other people around that person to assist. You are not going to destroy the total system like in the case of Correctional Services overnight by means of people – most probably people with the potential but all of them just don't have the competency and there is no leadership and there are no principles or executive sponsors to take those people into the future. I think that is what we have succeeded to do in the SAPS and from the very beginning I made it very clear to the people: just make sure that we identify those people with a good potential and the ability. If we fast track those people, make sure secondly to have executive sponsors to assist those people.

POM     That's like?

GF     Executive sponsors, competent Commanders, mostly white people but in some cases black people as well. Au fait with the job, competent people who are really in a position to take that person with the potential and the ability into the future and to develop the person and to assist and to act as a sort of a backstop for that person, otherwise affirmative action can never work. It can never work. Once again I'm not saying the Police Service is up to standard. I am saying in comparison with some of the other departments in this country it worked better in the environment of the Police Service than in many other departments because there was a measure of conservatism in the process of affirmative action and that is what I want to say. There must a measure of conservatism otherwise –

POM     If you fast track too quickly to meet goals that were unrealistically set in the beginning you will end up sacrificing efficiency, competency for a numbers game.

GF     For sure, for a numbers game. What's a numbers game?

POM     So a balance must be struck between representivity on the one hand and the quality of the service provided on the other.

GF     And a numbers game will catch up with you in the very near future because those people – and you know it's so absolutely unfair towards the system and towards the individual. If you fast track a person totally out of his competency, what are you doing to that person? You are going to destroy that person because very soon that person will realise I'm a square peg in a round hole, I can't do the job, I'm not acceptable, my people around me, youngsters, are laughing at me. They think I am a stupid idiot and indeed that person will begin to feel I am a stupid idiot, I can't do the job, and that person will fade out. Then it will be a little bit too late, then you've done a lot of damage to the system and to the service and to those individuals around that person. So that is why I am saying it's good to do affirmative action. Of course we must do it, I've explained why. You must represent your nation and your total population and you must get the confidence of those people and you can't use a white, as they call it in SA, to infiltrate the Zulu nation to get information and to investigate crime properly. How on earth? They will never accept it.

     That is why I think in Northern Ireland - do you think that you are going to use the one group to render services to the other in a proper way or are you going to create a situation where there is total acceptability? Is it possible in Northern Ireland, I don't know, to use a Catholic to be a proper and a good policeman in the Protestant environment and to be acceptable by those people and to gather crime intelligence and to win the confidence of those people and to get what they want as police officers to do their job properly, to stop the bombings and to make sure that they get certain elements in Northern Ireland under control? How are you going to do it? I think those are the issues the new dispensation has to work out.

POM     For example, if you took Northern Ireland you could divide it, I won't say down the middle, but let's say down the middle and one half is almost entirely Protestant and the other half is almost entirely Catholic. Now if you're allocating – it's like saying here you've got the townships are all black and you've got still the urban areas, though mixed, still mostly white, how do you allocate your resources? Do you send white policemen into the townships to patrol and investigate and be part of community policing or do you say this simply isn't feasible, practicable, it won't work, let's just face the fact? Or what kind of balance do you try to establish in terms of units operating as integrated - ?

GF     You see what is very important, and I think it's not as simplistic as saying you send a Catholic to a Catholic environment and a Protestant to a Protestant environment and a white to a white environment and a black to a black environment, because some of those black people, many of them wrote to me, many of them came to see me, telling me we don't trust black people, we want white people to service our environment. Many of them. That's nothing new in SA, nothing new in SA. Some of them will come to you and say we have too many whites in our environment, we want to have more blacks. Some white people will come to you to say, listen here, we don't want black people to – especially in the farming community. We had long sessions between the farming community, organised agriculture, myself and President Nelson Mandela where the farmers said we want more white police officers because they understand our problems better. It may be a certain sense of racism, I don't know, but it's not as simple as saying one must really be in service of the other. We are referring to democratic policing, so-called community oriented policing. That means you must get the support of your local environment wherever you are. If you are in Pretoria or a small town in SA or wherever the case may be the principle should be the community leaders must really play a role in the composition of that Police Service and they must play a role in the way in which those police officers are doing their job. I'm not saying they must take over the command of the police, that's for the police command structure, but at least what must happen – you must have a so called Community Council or Board or whatever the case may be, as we have in SA. It's not working in all respects in SA but in certain environments it's working 100% perfectly, the so called CPFs, the Community Police Forums.

POM     Now their function is?

GF     Their function is really to sit down with the Command of the police to make sure that they attend to the grievances and the problems of the community, to make sure that the Police Services are shifted and directed in such a way that they focus on those issues which are really thorns in the flesh of the community.

POM     So if, say, in a farming community a Community Forum comes along and says to the Area Commander, we just don't trust black policemen, we're uncomfortable, we don't feel any safer at night than if there were no policemen, we want more white policemen in the area, (a) obviously there's a racist element?

GF     Yes, there's a racist element.

POM     OK, but that's the feeling of the community, it's a racist community and you've got to deal with the racist community. What do you do?

GF     And you are going to have tension. I think what you have to do as command structure of the Police Service and government is to listen to those people and to make sure that as far as possible, I'm talking as far as possible, without being totally unrealistic you must try to accommodate those people because some of the farming communities, we're on the racist turn now, some of the farming communities will come to the police and say, we have this problem of stock theft in our environment. You are catching motor cars parking on the wrong side of the road, utilising all the manpower in that direction, we think we should refocus the Police Service to pay much more attention to this side of law enforcement in this environment. What I am saying is there should be, and this is not happening overnight, once again you must build confidence between the community structures and the Police Service. That is what I am saying, because it's not practical to say whites must only serve whites and blacks must only serve blacks and the Roman Catholics must only serve Catholics and Protestants only Protestants. It's not going to happen that way. What must happen, there must be a good mix. If we are saying Northern Ireland is basically divided in two parts, then of course I think it will be very short-sighted of government and the police command structure not to provide for that in terms of composition, to make sure that the vast majority of people, if this is Roman Catholic and this is Protestant, the vast majority of police officers here will be – it will be Protestant heavy and this one will be Catholic heavy.

POM     This comes back to in terms of community policing, should the officers live in the communities they serve?

GF     Yes. But you see once again here you are going to have many station areas, police station areas. In each one of those station areas you must have a CPF, a Community Police Forum comprising of credible members of the public, the community leaders there. So obviously in this case you are going to have your Police Commander, you are going to have a representative of the Catholics, you are going to have a representative of the Protestants and you are going to have a couple of other guys, maybe representative of organised business and that type of thing, a well balanced Community Police Forum to decide about what are the priorities in this police area, how are we going to utilise our resources, our total resources because the community also has certain resources to pull together and to assist the police. How are we going to utilise our total resources to focus on our main problem areas in this policing station area? I think the whole idea is confidence building and to make sure that you really take the community leaders in that environment along and very soon this structure will find out where are the tension areas, the thorns in the flesh, is there a total imbalance in terms of composition here. Do we have a problem with trust? Why is it we can't trust the police or vice versa? What is the problem? I don't think the Chief sitting here, the National Commissioner, the Chief of Police, the Chief Constable, is really in a position to sort out those problems.

POM     That's just the area, or the local Commander must do it.

GF     The local Commander with the community leaders in that area. They must sort it out. Because I must tell you in this country of ours we had a couple of high tension areas, hot spots, where this structure really worked and it's still working and there is an absolute goodwill situation between the police and the community and a couple of years ago there was total hatred and absolute conflict between the police and the community.

     Now of course always we are going to have politics. The politics of Northern Ireland will never disappear. The politics of this country of mine will never disappear but I think the practical issues at grassroots level could be dealt with in a much better way if you realise as a police officer and as community out there, policing is not the property of the police and it's not the unique and … (break in recording)

POM     Sorry, you were saying that?

GF     I'm saying I think we must realise as police officers and as community leaders, you know policing is really out of the community for the community from the very beginning. It was created by the community for the community and it must be the same principle today that policing shouldn't be the property of the police. So what I am saying is, I think in my mind firstly to sum up, if you look at a situation like Northern Ireland and you're talking about transformation, one of the most important things will be to take people on board, make sure you communicate ongoing, ongoing. If I can have my turn over I will do much more in the line of communication, speaking to people, taking people along, taking people into my confidence, making sure that you make people in a realistic manner comfortable. You can't expect people to be in all senses comfortable with a changing situation. They are going to be uncomfortable. To attend much more to those parts of the problem, the human being, the uncertainties, the way you are treating people, the way you are accommodating people, the way you are making sure that you are not chucking people out into the dark. I think that's one of the issues.

     The second issue is you must make sure that your programmes are absolutely in place to accommodate people. So if you want to redirect people there must be a programme to accommodate them and to make sure that they move into a specific direction and to make sure that they are being kept up to date on an ongoing basis about what's going on and the public out there as well. It's very important. It's very difficult to have this breakthrough in terms of change if you don't have the total support of the public as well. They must know what you are busy with. In the case of SA it happened on a number of occasions where the public, and I think even today, the public is not really aware because it's big, the country is big, it's very difficult to communicate. Our population is under-developed and most of those people don't even have a radio so it's very difficult to communicate in SA. I think it's much better in your country to communicate and to keep people up to date and to make sure that they know exactly what you are doing. Because if you take them along they have sympathy for the process and they support the process.

     Then thirdly, the local structures shouldn't be politicised, shouldn't be political structures. I am not talking about political structures, I am talking about functional police structures and the community will have seats in this functional police structure and they will make sure, you know we are dealing with our problems, that this is really what we have in terms of resources. Those are our focus areas in terms of our responsibility as a police structure because they become part of this police structure now and if they have problems in terms of composition imbalances and whatever the case may be it must go up the line and the line must attend to that wherever possible. You can have swaps between various police areas and whatever the case may be but it will be very important to make sure that maybe, once again in a realistic manner, slowly but surely you will have to attend to the representivity problem because without convincing the public out there and the Police Service that you are attending to that, you will never win the confidence of the community and that will never give you the sort of basis you need as a police officer to do your work properly, the infiltration.

     I believe our problem in the Western Cape in SA is really the fact that we can't infiltrate. We can't infiltrate because we don't have the agents. For a number of years, the last 20, 30 years in SA, we never recruited people to do that type of job in the Western Cape. We recruited whites and whites will never infiltrate the Muslims in the Western Cape and whites will never infiltrate the Zulus in KZN. In most of the cases here in SA our organised crime comprises black people. We have white syndicates as well of course. How are you going to infiltrate a black syndicate with a white man? You see? So over and above the fact that representivity is a political issue it's also a matter of efficiency.

POM     We'll leave it at that. I could ask you a thousand more questions but what I will do is I will send you a draft of the remarks I'm going to make and you might have some comments on them. Thank you ever so much.

GF     This one – I think you have it on computer?

POM     I do yes.

GF     I worked through it. So far what I haven't checked is really – you made mention on the telephone, is to make sure about names.

POM     Yes, that they're spelt right.

GF     I just want to make sure. I checked on the substance. The substance is 100%, I haven't got a problem with that. It's a true reflection of our conversations, but I just want to check on names like Portfolio Committee, and what, what, what.

POM     Yes. You can send it back to the university and I will get it there. That's where I have them all sent.

GF     OK.

POM     Thank you, again, very much.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.