Top cop’s departure sparks controversy

FIJI’S former Police Commissioner, South African Major General Ben Groenewald, has scoffed at any notion that there are no police officers capable of replacing him as head of Fiji’s Police Force. “I believe that there are enough well educated and trained serving police officers who would be in a better position to lead the Police,” Groenewald has told Islands Business.

“My Deputy Commissioner, Isikeli Ligairi, who was previously also a victim of an unconstitutional termination and I re-instated him, is but one name. I have full confidence in him.” Groenewald, whose tenure came to an abrupt end in mid-November said he was a firm believer that Fiji’s police can and must be managed by specialised policemen and not military officers. He had six months left to complete his two year contract when the Fiji Government announced, on the eve of a public holiday, that he had resigned for personal reasons.

The former Police Commissioner insisted he had not resigned “but the fact that I reached an agreement with the (Constitutional Officers) Commission to an early release of my contractual obligation suits them well”, he said. Groenewald confirmed that there were some personal issues about poor housing conditions which also led to him agreeing to an early end to his contract.

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