Job offer to ‘shut up’ cop

2015-11-30 14:24

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - In an alleged bid to “shut her up”, a higher rank was handed to the officer who complained about a controversial promotion involving KZN police’s top brass.

While the province’s police management remains mum on the legalities surrounding the appointment of Agatha Nozipho Sikhakhane as a staff officer — when she did not meet the basic requirements for the post — The Witness can reveal that a lieutenant-colonel rank was also given to the captain who laid a grievance against Sikhakhane’s promotion.

Police sources in provincial management, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, said the latter promotion was “a ploy to save the police embarrassment and shut up the complainant”.

Earlier this month, The Witness reported that Sikhakhane — who was KZN provincial police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni’s clerk — was awarded a staff officer’s post and a rank promotion to lieutenant-colonel in 2011. This despite the fact that she did not meet the basic requirements for the job — a national senior certificate and a driver’s licence.

The new post came with a salary increase of more than 100%, from R161 316 per annum to about R373 860 per annum.

At the time of the appointment, a grievance was lodged by Captain Estelle Swarts, the staff officer for Major-General Khombinkosi Jula, and the matter was taken to arbitration.

According to Swarts’s lawyer, Shaun van Vollenhoven, the arbitrator in charge of the case initially dismissed the application, saying nothing was wrong with Sikhakhane’s appointment.

The decision was then taken on review through the labour court and the judge, according to Van Vollenhoven, granted in favour of Swarts, ruling that Sikhakhane’s promotion must be set aside.

Because Swarts was third in line for the position, Van Vollenhoven said he sent a proposal to police management to “save them public embarrassment”.

“We always sought protected promotion for Swarts. We did not worry about what the police did about Sikhakhane. Swarts is my client,” Van Vollenhoven said.

The proposal asked for an out-of-court settlement where Swarts would be given the lieutenant-colonel rank originally advertised as well as the back pay in terms of the salary increase she would have received since Sikhakhane’s appointment.

Van Vollenhoven said that months went by before the police responded to the letter, and it was only when Swarts’s legal team made another application to the police’s bargaining council, that the settlement agreement was approved.

“At any moment now [Swarts] will get confirmation of her new rank,” he said.

When The Witness exposed the promotion two weeks ago, police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said they could not comment on the matter as it was sub judice. Now Naicker said police would not comment because it is an internal matter.

The Witness asked questions about Sikhakhane’s fate and the settlement agreement, but all Naicker said was “both parties came to an amicable agreement”.

“As far as we are concerned this is an internal matter and it has now been finalised,” he said.

Sikhakhane could not be reached for comment and Swart referred The Witness’s questions to her lawyer.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  saps

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