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Pretoria - The Tshwane Metro Police’s termination of their contracts has left 40 trainees so devastated that one of them came close to committing suicide.
According to fellow trainees, the woman - who had been training for more than a year to become a metro police constable - wanted to fling herself in front of an oncoming train after signing a termination letter. Friends rescued her from the railway tracks before she could carry out her plan.
A number of the trainees say they were unfairly dismissed by the metro police at the end of last month. They have vowed to take action.
But metro police spokesman Isaac Mahamba said their services had been terminated in keeping with the terms of their contracts.
“The contract is clear. Clause 10.3 states that if a student cannot fulfil the requirements of the course, his or her contract will cease to exist. That is why their contracts were terminated,” he said.
According to Mahamba, the 40 students had failed subjects or modules.
Two of the trainees spoke to the Pretoria News about their uncertain futures. They did not want to be named, for fear of being victimised.
Ben said he had quit his job to take up the opportunity to train as a metro police officer.
Thabo said he had a child to support.
They had signed a contract with the academy for 15 months and would have passed out next month, to be deployed as constables.
They were among 540 trainees taken on board in June last year.
“They told us last year that there were too many of us. Maybe this is how they want to reduce the numbers,” Ben said.
Trainees were paid a stipend of R3 000 a month, but have to pay for their own transport, accommodation and food.
The group blame what they believe are maladministration and double standards at the academy for their “unfair dismissal”.
“We are willing to work and have ambition to do something with our lives. They shattered our dreams,” Ben said.
Ben and Thabo alleged they were not given time to read or question the termination letters and were forced to sign them.
“We were terrified. We had no idea what was going on. All we were told was that we had to give back our uniforms,” Ben said.
“Procedures were not followed. We received no verbal, written or final warnings and no disciplinary hearing.”
Ben slammed the city for allowing officers who had almost completed their training to be fired.
“They just launched Tshepo 10 000 to employ people, but then they fire the people they employed last year,” he said.
The contract stipulates trainees must:
* Comply with the training hours as stipulated.
* Comply with rules as set by the City of Tshwane, Road Traffic Management Co-operation and the South African Police Service.
* Not be sick for more than five days, consecutively or not.
* Not disclose any information, by any means, regarding the activities of the municipality.
* Enter into a service agreement with the metro police for a period of 12 months upon completion of the relevant qualification as a constable. If trainees fail to remain in service, they are must repay the cost of the training course and the stipend. Further appointment is at the department's discretion.
* Not have a criminal record.
* Trainees will be terminated if they are found guilty of serious misconduct.
* Trainees will be terminated if they do not fit into the culture and spirit of the department.