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Cop ‘too senior’ to be questioned

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Deputy police commissioner for visible policing, Major-General Phumzo Gela. Picture: Antoine de Ras

Gauteng police have reportedly avoided taking any action against a deputy commissioner accused of insulting and demeaning his juniors and then verbally transferring them at his whim.

Deputy police commissioner for visible policing, Major-General Phumzo Gela, has said he won’t respond to the allegations because he is too senior to be subjected to processes. Gela has been untouched for the past 22 months.

The allegations are contained in a report issued by a task team in March 2012 after its investigation into the Midrand 10111 call centre and its related units in Gauteng.

The report accuses Gela and then emergency centre commander, Brigadier Vuyokazi Ndebele, of picking on several officers at the centre, swearing at them publicly and unilaterally transferring them without following procedure.

Ndebele, who was accused of leaving a female officer alone on the road with prostitutes and drunk men when the blue lights on the vehicle she was travelling in did not work, was removed from the centre last year.

But according to the report, when the task team asked Gela to give his version of events, he said “a person of his stature, rank, qualification will not subject himself to this process”.

The Sunday Independent has seen a copy of the 80-page report and its recommendations.

Gauteng police spokesman Brigadier Neville Malila said the report was an internal police disciplinary matter which would be dealt with internally.

However two unions that were involved in the investigation say that since the report’s release 22 months ago, Gela has escaped any form of questioning.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union provincial secretary Matsemela Matsemela said that while several issues emanating from the report were addressed, the issue concerning Gela had not yet been finalised.

“Brigadier Ndebele was removed. All the verbal transfers were reversed and stopped but there are other areas that were not adequately addressed. An issue involving another constable and General Gela still needs to be attended to. The report makes recommendations but Gela has undermined that process and has to be called to account,” Matsemela said.

According to the report, in the incident, Gela “demeaned and insulted” the constable during one of his visits to the call centre.

Gela entered the call centre when the constable was on the telephone giving a colleague information about a suspected stolen vehicle. The constable therefore failed to salute the general and only braced.

When the member tried to apologise, the general said: “Voetsek I don’t have time, I told you to go.”

Days later the constable was transferred to the provincial joint operations centre. He was one of more than 80 verbal transfers.

“It is clear that the transfer of the member was not in accordance with the relevant prescripts and has negatively impacted on both the employee and his family,” said the report.

The union took up the issue with the former provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Mzwandile Petros, before his contract ended last year, but had not had any feedback. To date, acting provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Joel Mothiba has not made any progress on the matter.

SA Police Union general secretary Oscar Skommere, said the report was handed over to the minister of police and to national police commissioner, General Riah Phiyega but nothing was done.

National police spokesman, Solomon Makgale, said that the matter was being handled by the province.

Zweli Mnisi, spokesman for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, said no-one in the ministry was aware of the report and that the matter - in any case - would be handled by the province and the national commissioner.

Contacted this week, Gela did not respond to calls or SMSes.

Ndebele said she could not comment on Gela’s matter as he was her “boss”. She denied being transferred because of the allegations, saying that was not indicated when she was told to move.

“Up until today nothing has been brought to us. We had answers for everything. The call centre is being governed by standing instructions and standard operating procedures… When you enforce discipline, you will never be loved,” she said.

She dismissed allegations that she used foul language towards junior officers.

The charges of crimen injuria laid against her by the constable, who was disciplined for the broken blue lights, were dropped she added.

In May last year, Gela was fingered as the person who authorised the irregular use of police vehicles and police officers to escort guests of the politically connected Gupta family to a wedding at Sun City.

The guests travelled in a Gupta-chartered jet and landed at Waterkloof Air Force base. Gela, who was suspended, was cleared of any charges and returned to work.

candice.bailey@inl.co.za

- Sunday Independent


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