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Mostly known as Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega, Riah Phiyega, is one person that has built herself to a great height of envy.

Since the 1980s, Riah began building a professional life for herself. This she has done holding various offices and positions in both private and public offices. The Climax of her achievement came in 2012 when she became a national police commissioner in South Africa.

At the climax of her career however, things took a bad turn and she was suspended from office in 2015. Riah Phiyega is still under investigation. Although everything seems to be crumbling on the police commissioner, she has achieved a lot for herself.

Riah Phiyega: Biography

Phiyega started her life in the small village of Leolo, in the province of Limpopo in South Africa. In a very early age, she learnt to catch a train from her home in Polokwane to the big city of Johannesburg for schooling purpose.

The small girl who would grow to be so many things, proceeded to Leolo high school in continuation of her education. With parents in the education line, she continued pursuing her education diligently. This paid off in 1981 when she pocketed a BA in social work at the University of the North

Bold and a go getter, Riah attended other tertiary institutions such as University of South Africa, Wharton Business School, and National University of Singapore. Other institutions she attended included University of Johannesburg and University of Wales.

 Part of the qualifications she added to her educational arsenal in the various institutions she attended are PGD in Business Administration and various Social Work degrees. She as well completed an Executive Business Leadership Programme and an Executive Management Programme.

Riah Phiyega’s Husband is Elias Phiga. They have been married for over 25 years and they have three children. She is as well a grandmother.

Professional life

Before the 1980s, Riah had had some professional life. It however took an obvious shape in 1981.Some positions she held are:

Head, Atteridgeville Child Welfare (NGO)                                                   1981 to 1987

Board member, Connex Travel                                                                        1997 to 2000

Chairman, Production House                                                                           1998 to 1999

Commissioner, Satchwell Road Accident Foundation Commission         2000 to 2002

Board Member, South Africa 2010 World Cup Bid                                      2002 to 2010

Chairperson, Presidential State Owned Review Committee                       2010 to 2012

At present she is:

National Police Commissioner:                                                                        June 2012 till date

Chairman SADC Police Chiefs Association                                                    October 2014 till date


Riah Phiyega has been as well active in Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Of note among her contributions to NGOs are her activities with South African Trust as well as the Nelson Mandela Children Fund.

Riah: The Police Commissioner

Riah Phiyega’s age is 58 years. Born in May 29, 1958, she has grown to become the first National commissioner of Police of South Africa.

Without any police background, Riah was appointed national police commissioner in 2012 by President Jacob Zuma. This was after the sacking of Bheki Cele who served in that capacity from 2009 to 2011.

In October 2015 she was suspended from office. While the two ministers before her were sacked from office as a result of corruption allegation, Riah’s case was different. The National Commissioner got suspended as a result multiplicity in the death of protesting miners in 2012.

Of all Police News in SA, the case of the killing of the protesters has been recorded as the most brutal use of force by the police against civilians for a very long time. The massacre occurred few months after Riah’s appointment.

While the police service claimed that the police acted in self defense, most of the protesting workers were shot from the back, suggesting that they were shot while fleeing. Although various media sources reported that the protesting miners first opened fire on the police before the police responded.

In 2015, almost three years after the event, Riah Phiyega was suspended from office by Jacob Zuma as recommended by a committee to review the event. The committee chaired by Ian Farlam, called for her suspension as further investigations are done.

Riah is being investigated on whether she misled the Marikana Commission on the time it was decided to “go tactical” against the protesting workers, as well as whether that has influenced the killings. More so, it is aimed to find out whether her remarks after the incidence were appropriate, and if she tried deceiving the public by the media reports released afterwards.

As her case continues, the SA police news does not seem to have much hope for Riah.


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