Cops lash out at Phiyega’s niece

2013-09-08 14:01

After contentious promotion, Shai called a ‘dictator’.

Officers in the police’s communications division have called on national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega to “rein in” her niece, Brigadier Tumi Shai, who they accuse of insulting them at work, calling them “houtkoppe”, “old people” and “bashemane” (boys).

A formal grievance signed by 15 staff in the publications and broadcasting unit, a copy of which is in City Press’ possession, says Shai frequently drops her aunt’s name to intimidate employees.

They appealed to Shai’s boss, Phiyega’s spokesperson Solomon Makgale, to address her “dictatorial, aggressive behaviour”, which has seen morale levels plummet.

The staff are responsible for producing internal magazines and a weekly SABC2 TV show called When Duty Calls.

They say Shai “does not understand the requirements of the post she is in”.

The ratings on When Duty Calls have plummeted since she took over as section head in February, they say. And they want her transferred or sent on TV production and “interpersonal skills” courses.

Makgale said he received the grievance last month and instructed Shai to respond to the concerns raised. Makgale said: “I met with all the employees and gave each an opportunity to raise their concerns as well as indicate what outcome they wished for.

They all indicated that they would like me to resolve the issue as opposed to going through a formal grievance process.”

He said he will make a decision in the next few days.

Makgale said the relationship between Shai, a police officer since 2002, and Phiyega was declared when Phiyega was appointed to the police’s top post last year.

Two months after Shai’s February promotion to brigadier, the Rapport newspaper reported that police officers in the communications unit were up in arms over Shai’s promotion from the rank of colonel.

The newspaper reported that several police officers with more experience were questioning her R61?000 a month salary, considering she only had 10 years’ service in the SA Police Service (SAPS).

Meanwhile, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says the vetting process, which would have flagged the drunk-driving charges faced by Major General Bethuel Zuma should have been conducted before he was appointed to the job of Gauteng’s top cop – before being hastily fired from that position when it emerged he was facing these charges.

So said the police ministry’s spokesperson Zweli Mnisi after last week’s blunder, which saw Phiyega hastily withdrawing Zuma’s appointment, saying it was only “provisional” and that he would be vetted later.

This was not the only procedural error Phiyega made.

Senior officers say she did not follow the Police Act or provisions of the Constitution that regulate the appointment of provincial police commissioners.

If these had been followed, Phiyega would have known of Zuma’s pending drunk driving case, because an updated security clearance certificate, called a Z204, and a Stroke Five file, which documents all negative reports about police officers, would have revealed it to her.

In addition, a “factual report” by the Crime Information Analysis Centre compiled at the time of the alleged crime would have been sent to the SAPS’s joint operations centre.

Mnisi said: “It is important to reiterate that the screening and verification process, which is done on any appointment of any official is the primary responsibility of SAPS management so that by the time they come to the minister with a potential appointee, all the necessary checks and balances would have been finalised.”

Phiyega’s spokesperson would not comment on this matter.

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