Cabinet has approved belatedly the appointment of Jennifer Anne Irish-Qhobosheane as Secretary of Police and head of the Police Secretariat. The appointment was first mooted last August and was made the following month.
Cabinet confirmed her grade as deputy director general, meaning that she is junior to national police commissioner General Bheki Cele. This is in contrast to the Secretary for Defence, who is equal to the Chief of the South African National Defence Force. In the years after the establishment of nonracial democracy in 1994, the SecPol was equal to that of the police chief, but safety and security minister Steve Tshwete as well as his police chiefs undermined the office that was meant to police the police.
“I am directly accountable to the minister,” she told the Mail & Guardian newspaper last November. “Essentially there are three functions of the secretary. The first is to advise the minister on policy-related issues, the second is to provide civilian oversight and to report to the minister on that and the third component is the development of partnerships.” Part of her remit is overseeing the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) that investigates complaints against the police.
The M&G notes Irish-Qhobosheane comes to the police with a wealth of experience in crime research and has written several books on the subject, including one on the socio-economy of organised crime in South Africa. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and was last year in the process of completing an LLB degree.
Irish-Qhobosheane previously headed up the aggravated crime unit within Business Against Crime, a business lobby group that raises funds for the police and acts as a link between the economy and law enforcement. She has also served as vice chair of the South African Private Security Industry Regulatory Council and on the board of the Open Society Crime Prevention Initiative.