‘Exploited’ sergeants get R1000 back-pay in exchange for delayed promotions

Retired police officer William Mokhachane. Picture: Supplied
Retired police officer William Mokhachane. Picture: Supplied

Police officers are allegedly being denied their proper pay for delayed promotions and they are furious.

City Press has learnt that newly promoted sergeants in Gauteng received R1000 for not being promoted at the end of September 2017.

If their promotions were effected then, last year they would have earned between R222 000 and R270 000, depending on their level of experience.

However, they continued to earn salaries for the rank of constable, which ranged between R175 000 and R213 000 last year.

In their new sergeant rank, they earn between R235 000 to R287 000 this year.

Read: SAPS officials involved in rise of cash-in-transit crime

Rank structure of the South African Police Service

The R1000 pay has angered officers, including Thulani Xolo*, who is one of about 1000 Gauteng sergeants who were told about this in a text message, which City Press has seen.

Xolo (41) said he received his R1000 earlier this month. It was way less than what he had expected.

“I’m married, have three children, unemployed siblings and extended family members who I’m looking after. This is an insult to us. We feel very exploited. Our promotion was long overdue if you count from September 2017 until April 2019. We respond to robberies at malls, not the VIP Protection or Technical Response Team units, which are treated better because they get promoted about a year after leaving college,” he said.

Xolo joined the service in 2006. He said he will have to wait for another 11 years before getting promoted to be a warrant officer.

“I will probably go on pension with that rank. What does that mean? I feel sorry for myself and I can see that there is no development within the police service unless you are politically connected,” Xolo said.

Strike action

The R1000 came as management continued to crackdown on officers embarking on unprotected strikes, allegedly linked to grievances over promotions.

Police revealed that this month that at least 11 officers had already been summarily dismissed following unprotected strike action in East London in the Eastern Cape, and Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.

Of these, three were fired in Durban for, among other things, protesting while on duty, following unprotected strike action to the provincial headquarters. An additional 41 faced the axe for taking part in the unprotected protest in Durban, and eight were fired at East London’s Cambridge police station last month.

The recent dismissal of officers also came amid threats in the past few weeks by police to down tools over promotion-related grievances and allegations that leaders of their biggest union, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), had sold out to the South African Police Service (SAPS).

In the Free State, Sikelelwa Ntloko*, who has been an admin clerk for more than a decade, said she had not been promoted because Popcru’s leadership was in the pockets of police management.

She claimed that the union representatives were VIP guests at the National Police Day in the Free State earlier this year, and all their expenses were covered by the SAPS. She also said that Popcru utilised police vehicles to conduct union business, and that the union’s telephone expenses were covered by the SAPS.

“Members don’t trust Popcru anymore,” she said.

Fighting on

Similar allegations were made against Popcru by Maleshoane Mokhachane, the daughter of retired police officer William Mokhachane (69).

Mokhachane, who retired as a warrant officer, had since 2005 unsuccessfully fought to be promoted to lieutenant-colonel.

His family was told last month by the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS), a technical advisory department to Police Minister Bheki Cele, that the recommendations for his promotion were not approved.

Mokhachane had served in the police since 1973. He was stationed in Virginia before being transferred to Hennenman, a small town in the Free State.

Former police minister, Charles Nqakula, recommended in 2005 that he be promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and that the promotion be backdated to 2004.

Nqakula used the findings of the Dawn Mokhobo commission, which was appointed in 1995 to look into cases of police promotions and completed its work in 2005, to motivate for Mokhachane’s promotion.

City Press has seen Nqakula’s recommendation and subsequent CSPS rejection letter explaining to Mokhachane last month that the “appropriate authority”, the SAPS, never approved Mokhobo’s findings.

Maleshoane said the family was saddened by the turn of events.

“In 2012, we lost our mother to a heart attack and she was one woman who was going up and down with my father while fighting for his rank. It is bad for us to see him suffering now. It breaks our hearts,” Maleshoane said.

She said her father was also suffering from the pain of the injustice of apartheid.

His back was injured while on duty after he was run over by an unknown motorist following threats made by a Special Branch officer, who accused him of having information about the ANC.

She said her father was now being badly treated by the current government.

Official response

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo would not confirm whether officers were being disciplined for raising grievances concerned with promotions or not.

He said the fundamental issue was that they had embarked on an unprotected strike.

“The disciplinary decisions taken were purely based on the unprotected strike coupled with other issues,” Naidoo said.

These included disruption of traffic.

Naidoo also said allegations that police had Popcru in the pocket were unfounded, malicious and irresponsible.

“Popcru is one of two recognised unions of the SAPS which happens to be a labour union with a majority membership. These unions are considered to be critical stakeholders in the well-being and advancement of members of the SAPS. On that note, the SAPS will not be drawn into maleficent allegations made by faceless individuals,” Naidoo said.

With regard to Mokhachane’s matter, police declined to comment, saying the relationship between an employer and employee was confidential.

They had also not responded to the allegations of R1000 pay to Gauteng officers at the time of writing.

Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said suggestions that leadership was in the pockets of police management were not accurate. “Understandably, some members aren’t happy about some agreements signed over the years. The reality is that members have been happy and encouraged by the work Popcru has done within the criminal justice cluster,” Mamabolo said.

Popcru, he said, belongs to its members and is a worker-led union that prioritises their needs.


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