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S Africa chooses new police chief

File: President Jacob Zuma
Mr Zuma vowed that his to win the fight against crime

South African President Jacob Zuma has chosen a new national police chief to replace the former commissioner, who is accused of taking bribes.

Bheki Cele, a provincial transport minister, will replace Jackie Selebi, who is on currently leave pending the outcome of his corruption case.

Mr Zuma said Mr Cele's appointment was essential if South Africa was to win the fight against crime.

The country is plagued by crime, with about 50 people murdered every day.

Mr Zuma told journalists in Pretoria that filling Mr Selebi's position was integral to the government's plan of reducing the country's crime levels over the next five years.

'You can't kiss crime'

Mr Zuma said he had no doubt that Mr Cele had the experience for his new position and would serve the police "efficiently and effectively".

Bheki Cele, 29/07
Bheki Cele has a no-nonsense reputation

However, opposition parties have expressed disappointment at Mr Zuma's choice, saying Mr Cele's appointment was political.

They questioned his capabilities to tackle the crime problem, as he has never previously worked in the police force.

Mr Cele, who was favourite for the job and is seen as a close ally of Mr Zuma, promised to make the streets safer.

"I would like one day for a young girl to be able to walk alone from a nightclub or elsewhere without any fear of attack, abuse or rape," he told a news conference held jointly with Mr Zuma.

"You can't be soft, you can't be moving around kissing crime. You need to be tough because you are dealing with tough guys."

Mr Zuma's announcement puts an end to speculation on who would fill Mr Selebi's shoes, whose contract expires on Friday.

Prosecutors said in 2006 they would bring charges against him for receiving corrupt payments totalling 1.2 million rand ($133,000, £90,000) from convicted drug smuggler Glenn Agliotti.

Mr Selebi was suspended from work early last year.

Despite this, former President Thabo Mbeki renewed his contract for another 12 months in June last year.



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