The SA Police Union (Sapu) is intervening in a secret, looming reshuffle by National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega of her top management.

A restructure, which could cull several of the police’s top cops, has been on the cards for at least three months.

This week it was reported that Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, who was acting national police commissioner before Phiyega took over, would be moved to the Northern Cape as provincial commissioner.

Phiyega has vigorously denied the allegations of Mkhwanazi’s transfer.

This week Police spokesman Brigadier Lindela Mashigo said: “In the event there were to be such changes, the member(s) affected would be engaged as part and parcel of the process. It would seem there is a vindictive ploy aimed at distracting the SAPS management from fighting crime and that will unfortunately not be achieved.”

But The Sunday Independent has seen a letter sent from Sapu’s secretary general Oscar Skommere to the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council.

The letter requests an urgent meeting to discuss the police’s “scaling down” of the organisation’s top structure.

It states that “at least seven lieutenant-generals have been declared redundant”.

Skommere would not reveal the names of the seven generals.

“It is not clear whether the positions of the affected is now redundant or is the person just removed because they are no longer desirable,” he said in the letter.

Earlier this year the unions presented a proposal to reduce the “top heaviness” of the police to the Police’s portfolio committee and later to Phiyega.

Their proposal is for more generals to be placed at cluster level and police stations.

But in his letter to the bargaining council this week, Skommere slammed Phiyega’s alleged cut saying she had not consulted the bargaining council.

The Sunday Independent understands that the process of reducing the number of generals was in the pipeline before Phiyega came in but she apparently gave the go ahead.

Two police insiders, who cannot be named as they are not allowed to speak to the media, told The Sunday Independent that several weeks ago Phiyega presented her new structure to the police’s management forum in Midrand – slashing her seven deputies to three.

In the proposed top structure the three deputies are responsible for operations, finances and one for supply chain management and corporate support.

Phiyega had also allegedly announced the appointment of two lieutenant-generals as divisional heads. The duo will be responsible for crime intelligence and legal services. All unit heads will report to the three deputies.

In the same meeting Phiyega allegedly brought in a motivational speaker to address police management.

One of the senior police officers said the motivational speaker told them: “He went on about us (police management) being a team and Phiyega, a coach. He told us that a coach has the right to move players around. He said other players would be moved from the back line to the front, from the front line to the back and others from the front line to the bench.”

The senior police officer said that reading between the lines, the motivational speaker was trying to prepare the management for the chop.

The bargaining council could not be reached at the time of going to press. – Sunday Independent