CityPress - - News - ERIKA GIB­SON news@city­ – Rap­port

The SA Po­lice Ser­vice (SAPS) is plan­ning to pro­mote 37 for­mer Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) and Aza­nian Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (Apla) free­dom fighters to the top rank of Gen­eral – a move that could see some of them skip as many as five ranks.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice plan­ning doc­u­ments ob­tained by City Press’ sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion, Rap­port, these 37 gen­er­als form part of a group of nearly 600 for­mer non-statu­tory forces (NSF) who could soon ex­pect a huge pro­mo­tion.

In one ex­cep­tional case, a Sergeant could be­come a Bri­gadier (leap­ing seven ranks), 27 cap­tains are to be pro­moted to Ma­jor Gen­eral (a jump of five ranks) and 48 Sergeants will be pro­moted to Colonel (also five ranks).

Once the process is com­plete, 600 of the 601 for­mer MK and Apla mem­bers in the po­lice ser­vice will be of­fi­cers.

Ac­cord­ing to trade union Sol­i­dar­ity, the tar­geted pro­mo­tion process of for­mer free­dom fighters be­gan last year when a Bri­gadier was ret­ro­spec­tively pro­moted to Ma­jor Gen­eral af­ter he re­tired.

If the po­lice were to ex­e­cute these pro­mo­tion plans, it would mean that there will be 10 new Lieu­tenants Gen­eral and 27 new Ma­jors Gen­eral.

In com­par­i­son, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent statis­tics, there were 257 po­lice gen­er­als in the 2016/17 fi­nan­cial year.

Last month, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tito Mboweni said the pub­lic ser­vice has too many se­nior man­agers and im­me­di­ate steps should be taken to start scal­ing back on these posts by us­ing vol­un­tary sev­er­ance pack­ages.

Sol­i­dar­ity is fight­ing the pro­posed pro­mo­tions and will ap­proach the Pre­to­ria High Court to per­ma­nently halt the so-called re-rank­ing of the NSF.

Sol­i­dar­ity ob­tained doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to the pro­mo­tions fol­low­ing a Pro­mo­tion of Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act ap­pli­ca­tion.

The ap­pli­ca­tion landed in the high court on sev­eral oc­ca­sions be­cause the po­lice ser­vice ini­tially re­fused to sup­ply the re­quested in­for­ma­tion. The court even­tu­ally de­cided in favour of Sol­i­dar­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to Zirk Gous, a for­mer Bri­gadier in the SAPS and now the union’s co­or­di­na­tor of po­lice af­fairs, the po­lice have kept the rerank­ing project quiet, but po­lice doc­u­men­ta­tion ob­tained by the union con­firms that plans are well un­der way to be­ing im­ple­mented.

Gous claimed that the pro­mo­tion plans were un­fair to­wards ca­reer po­lice of­fi­cers; were not in the pub­lic in­ter­est; and could have a di­rect im­pact on law and or­der.

Mem­bers of the NSF were in­te­grated into the old de­fence force, po­lice and in­tel­li­gence ser­vices af­ter 1994.

The po­lice ser­vice awarded ranks to the ap­prox­i­mately 1 000 new po­lice of­fi­cers based on their qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ex­pe­ri­ence.

The po­lice doc­u­ments make it clear that over time there was un­hap­pi­ness among the for­mer free­dom fighters be­cause they be­lieved that their ranks were too ju­nior.

Ac­cord­ing to Gous, there are about 150 000 mem­bers of the po­lice force in uni­form. There are cur­rently 2 000 va­cant po­lice posts that must be filled by 2021.

If the pro­mo­tions are im­ple­mented at this point, it would mean that the NSF, rep­re­sent­ing just 0.4% of the po­lice force, would re­ceive 30% of the avail­able posts.

The union has also laid charges of fraud and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the Lyt­tel­ton Po­lice Sta­tion in Cen­tu­rion against for­mer na­tional po­lice com­mis­sioner Kho­motso Phahlane, sec­tion com­mis­sioner of hu­man re­sources man­age­ment Li­neo Nt­shiea, as well as deputy na­tional com­mis­sioner of per­son­nel BC Mg­wenya.

The charges re­late to the pro­mo­tion of re­tired Bri­gadier Abia Mo­laba, an NSF mem­ber who re­tired in March last year.

Phahlane and the other gen­er­als who are the sub­ject of the com­plaint al­legedly ret­ro­spec­tively pro­moted Mo­laba to the rank of Ma­jor Gen­eral af­ter he had al­ready been on pen­sion for a month.

The pro­mo­tion was al­legedly made with­out ap­proval by the min­is­ter and deputy min­is­ter of po­lice, which is an ad­min­is­tra­tive re­quire­ment.

In its court pa­pers, Sol­i­dar­ity pro­vides ev­i­dence that nei­ther Min­is­ter Bheki Cele nor his deputy, Bon­gani Mkongi, signed Mo­laba’s pro­mo­tion in­struc­tions.

The po­lice did not re­spond to sev­eral re­quests for com­ment by the time of go­ing to print.

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