Racism al­legedly reigns supreme at Ly­den­burg po­lice sta­tion

CityPress - - News - SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­press.co.za

Black po­lice of­fi­cers in Mpumalanga have called on pro­vin­cial po­lice com­mis­sioner Mondli Zuma to act de­ci­sively against their al­legedly racist col­leagues, whom they ac­cuse of re­fus­ing to treat them as equals.

The of­fi­cers from Ly­den­burg po­lice sta­tion, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity out of fear of reprisal, told City Press this week that a probe was un­der­taken in 2014 by the po­lice’s labour re­la­tions unit, which found that white se­nior man­agers were racist.

De­spite this find­ing, the SA Po­lice Ser­vice was yet to im­ple­ment the unit’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

The black cops who lodged the com­plaint said they were still be­ing vic­timised. They had also asked the province to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions against sta­tion com­mis­sioner Ben­son Mphahlele for:

. Cut­ting off a tele­phone line at the Mashish­ing satel­lite sta­tion;

. Show­ing scant con­cern about es­ca­lat­ing crime;

. Be­ing an au­to­cratic leader who la­belled them as Bo­eremag mem­bers; and

. De­duct­ing of­fi­cers’ pay even when they had re­ported sick.

City Press has learnt that Mphahlele was the only se­nior of­fi­cer who was sub­jected to the rec­om­men­da­tions of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and was trans­ferred to an­other sta­tion.

“Since the province came down here to in­ves­ti­gate in 2014, only its rec­om­men­da­tions against black man­agers were im­ple­mented, while those against two white man­agers were not,” said one of the dis­grun­tled black of­fi­cers.

“Racism is a big prob­lem here and the sit­u­a­tion is volatile. Black of­fi­cers are beaten by white man­agers and noth­ing is done about it.”

City Press has ob­tained a copy of the orig­i­nal com­plaint and the po­lice’s labour re­la­tions unit re­port with rec­om­men­da­tions, which were re­leased on Fe­bru­ary 24 2015.

The black of­fi­cers had also com­plained against Ly­den­burg’s clus­ter com­man­der, Hans Put­ter, and sup­port head com­man­der Jo­hannes Hey­mans.

No ac­tion was taken against them. In­stead, Put­ter was pro­moted to a sta­tion com­mis­sioner at the same po­lice sta­tion.

Some of the com­plaints against these se­nior of­fi­cers were that:

. Put­ter had al­legedly es­tab­lished a sec­tor in Pot­loot­spruit – a pre­dom­i­nantly white area where he resided – and ap­pointed him­self a sec­tor com­man­der;

. Put­ter al­legedly ex­cluded clus­ter per­son­nel from de­ci­sion mak­ing and im­posed on Hey­mans to per­form vis­i­ble clus­ter polic­ing co­or­di­na­tors’ du­ties; and

. Hey­mans al­legedly said: “All black po­lice­men and women are stupid and I can­not wait to fire them all.” He also told an of­fi­cer who needed trans­port to go to the pro­vin­cial of­fice, lo­cated 100km away in Mbombela, to “go to the hik­ing spot or walk”.

The labour re­la­tions unit, in its com­ments, said that “Lieu­tenant Colonel Hey­mans’ ac­tions con­tain el­e­ments of racism”. Put­ter, com­mented the in­ves­ti­ga­tors, showed no in­ter­est in man­ag­ing the sta­tion prop­erly.

The unit rec­om­mended that Put­ter be re­moved be­cause “he dis­played el­e­ments of lack­ing pa­tri­o­tism”, while with re­gards to Hey­mans it said that he also must be re­moved and “placed in an­other en­vi­ron­ment and be as­sisted pro­fes­sion­ally by EHW (em­ployee health and well­ness depart­ment).

Put­ter did not an­swer his cell­phone or re­ply to text ques­tions sent by City Press. When City Press tried to con­tact Hey­mans, he was not in the of­fice and his sec­re­tary said his cell­phone was faulty.

Mpumalanga’s po­lice spokesper­son, Leonard Hlathi, said al­though the labour re­la­tions unit rec­om­mended that Put­ter and Hey­mans be re­moved, it was the pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner’s pre­rog­a­tive to trans­fer of­fi­cers.

“The re­port, as you can see, was signed by a colonel and it is the com­mis­sioner who can trans­fer mem­bers.”

“There are in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­ing car­ried out at the sta­tion, which I am not at lib­erty to com­ment about.”

Last month, a video and pic­tures cir­cu­lated on so­cial media. They showed that a pri­vate se­cu­rity com­pany, Phoenix Se­cu­rity, had taken over the po­lice’s work at this sta­tion and were ar­rest­ing, de­tain­ing and even charg­ing sus­pects, par­tic­u­larly those from Mashish­ing town­ship.

Black of­fi­cers claimed that they were ex­cluded from op­er­a­tions in­volv­ing Phoenix, while com­mu­nity mem­bers said Phoenix Se­cu­rity tar­geted black peo­ple in road­blocks. They said Phoenix took along po­lice re­servists on their op­er­a­tions.


IN CHARGE Mpumalanga po­lice com­mis­sioner Mondli Zuma

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