KwaZul-Natal - A top police union negotiator has warned that sensitive crime intelligence information could inadvertently become declassified and result in a potential crisis if SAPS management continued to fight labour battles in court.
Stokky Ngwenya, the national negotiator with the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), has appealed to police management to try to resolve labour issues plaguing the crime intelligence unit internally to avoid classified information entering the public domain.
Ngwenya said Popcru was locked in negotiations with police in a bid to have KwaZulu-Natal spy boss, Major-General Dina Moodley, and suspended crime intelligence chief financial officer, Solly Lazarus, re-instated to their original posts.
Moodley is challenging his transfer to the Pinetown cluster.
The matter was set down for trial in the Durban Labour Court on Thursday but was adjourned to November.
Moodley’s attorney, Carl van der Merwe, said the SAPS’s legal team had again asked for an adjournment because they had not filed their heads of arguments timeously, he said.
This was the fourth time since May that the matter has been adjourned.
Lazarus had been suspended after he was accused of mismanaging the secret service fund. Before his suspension, he was transferred to the SAPS human resources department.
A union source said policy documents relating to the secret service account had already become declassified after the suspension of Lazarus.
“In a bid to prove that Lazarus did not use proper procedure when administering the secret service account, the national commissioner, [General] Riah Phiyega, has declassified policy documents and made it available to the unions.
“This document shows how the fund should be run, agent benefits and all financial matters pertaining to crime intelligence. This should have remained a confidential document.”
The source confirmed Ngwenya’s concerns, saying that if these matters went to the labour court, it could have serious repercussions on crime intelligence operations in future.
Last week, a labour relations bungle resulted in more than 20 crime intelligence unit officers who had been transferred, returning to their original jobs.
The unit’s acting national divisional commissioner, Major-General Chris Ngcobo, had issued an instruction calling on all members who had been transferred to return to their former posts by August 27.
Ngcobo had said the process of reorganising crime intelligence was being revoked on the basis that it had not been done in accordance with a Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSBC) agreement, which calls for fair consultation and negotiations between the employer and employee.
Ngwenya said the SSBC agreement had also applied to Moodley and Lazarus.
“We are saying to police that Moodley and Lazarus must be returned to their posts. Their transfer was also in contravention of the labour law,” he said.
“We should erase the past and start on a clean slate. Let all the members return to their original posts and then start the process of restructuring the crime intelligence unit with proper consultation.”
He said a meeting had been set with Ngcobo for Thursday, but the acting national crime intelligence head allegedly failed to attend.
“We cannot fight these battles in the public domain. It will affect the integrity of crime intelligence if classified information becomes public,” Ngwenya said.
“Also, attorneys cannot be privileged to such information. The national commissioner must intervene and avert a possible crisis.
“If they do not come to the party, I fear we will have no choice but to go to court.”
In May, highly trained Indian and white members of crime intelligence in KZN, along with their Gauteng counterparts, were transferred to “dead-end” positions at stations nationwide. At the time they claimed they were being used “as pawns in a political power play”.
They also blamed former crime intelligence head, Richard Mdluli, for the transfers.
Brigadier Jules Ndlovu was the only African to be transferred, allegedly because of his allegiance to sacked former national police commissioner, Bheki Cele.
Attempts to get comment from the national commissioner’s office were unsuccessful.