Minister of Police Bheki Cele Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ANA
Durban - More than 100 police officers in KwaZulu-Natal stayed away from work on Monday, apparently as part of a call for a nationwide strike over promotions.

While the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) distanced itself from the stay-away, Police Minister Bheki Cele warned doctors against issuing sick notes to officers unnecessarily. He had contacted Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to intervene and warn doctors who may be handing out sick notes without reason.

He warned that police officers provided an essential service and were not allowed to go on strike.

Cele reported that at least 400 police officers in the Western Cape and 120 in KZN had embarked on a strike, demanding promotions.

It is alleged that a message was circulated in the Western Cape on Tuesday, asking officers to gather at the Grand Parade at mid-morning. There were no reports of any gatherings in KZN, but Cele said he was aware of police officers who had not reported for duty on Tuesday.

“We are also aware of the fact that some have made use of letters from doctors to not be at work. We are warning the doctors to not fall for these scams, and we call on the (Health) minister to deal with those who may be found to be on the other side of the law,” he said.

Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said he had heard of the absence of officers in the Western Cape and KZN, but his latest brief was that overall it was business as usual.

“We made it clear that we were not part of the strike and have not given any mandate for anyone to embark on a strike or go-slow,” he said.

Since last week, thousands of police officers had been proposing the idea of industrial action due to grievances over an agreement regarding promotions. The agreement was apparently signed in December last year and allegedly authorised promotions at specialised units, including the unit commonly known as “Amaberete”.

Mamabolo said although they supported the call for promotions to be implemented as soon as possible, it had not reached the point of police officers being forced to abandon their duties.

The agreement was signed by the SAPS’s national leadership and Popcru, the majority union in the sector.

Speaking at police headquarters in Joburg, Cele said all deserving officers would get promotions.

He said overdue promotions dated back to 2011/12, which resulted in a backlog of 69219 promotions.

Cele said 1200 promotions were effected on June 1, 2016, 1000 on September 1 last year and 1000 on February1 this year. He said 28000 officers would be promoted through grade progression this month.

Mamabolo said they would not celebrate Cele’s promise just yet.

“We have been calling for the promotions for too long, but the deserving employees were not promoted. We are not going to celebrate until he delivers on his promise.”

The SA Police Union was on Tuesday not available to comment on reports of the strike, but according to a statement on the union’s website, it had made its members aware that the police were categorised as an essential service and were therefore not allowed to engage in industrial action.

The union said, however, that it supported the aggrieved officers, some of whom had spent more than a decade at one rank.

Daily News