KwaZulu-Natal acting police commissioner Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. Picture: Sizwe Ndingane/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Durban – KwaZulu-Natal acting police commissioner, Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, has accused the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) of following a “personal agenda” after the union accused him of being divisive.

Popcru issued a statement on Thursday lambasting Mkhwanazi for “ill-informed, unfortunate and regrettable utterances” that the top cop allegedly made during a staff meeting at Chatsworth Police Station, Durban.

The union accused Mkhwanazi of saying that the South African Police Services (SAPS) had made a “huge mistake” in hiring Public Service Act employees within its ranks - who fulfil administrative roles - and labelling them as “useless”.

Speaking to African News Agency on Friday, Popcru national spokesperson, Richard Mamobolo, said: “From what we heard, [Mkhwanazi] was basically discriminating against Public Service Act members saying if it was up to him, SAPS would not use them.”

Police officers are employed under the Police Act.

Mamobolo said those employed under the Public Service Act do not get equal treatment with regard to salaries and promotions compared to those under the Police Act.

“That is why Popcru has decided that we want those falling under the Public Services Act to be incorporated into the Police Act,” he said.

Popcru said a collective agreement was taken at the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC) in 2017 in which posts of 10111 operators would be moved from the Public Service Act to the Police Act.

SAPS provincial communications’ head, Brigadier Jay Naicker, said Mkhwanazi was “surprised” at the allegations, and added they were “baseless”.

Naicker said the comments made by Mkhwanazi at the police station were being quoted out of context.

“During his interaction with ordinary members of the SAPS it emerged that many employees were aggrieved due to the lack of opportunities for promotions. In response to those concerns, the Acting Provincial Commissioner has shared his views with police officials on how he saw the career pathing for police officials should be directed,” said Naicker. 

He said an internal communiqué had been issued to place the matter in the “correct context”. 

Mkhwanazi was seeking to meet with unions “to set the record straight”, said Naicker.

Mkhwanazi said in a statement that in his 17 years as a “commissioned officer in this SAPS” he had presided “over a number of posts and … appointed many civilians into this department”.

“These alleged utterances that I have issues with clerks in the SAPS is unfortunate and can only be made by those who have a personal agenda against myself,” said Mkhwanazi.

Police minister Bheki Cele announced Mkhwanazi’s appointment in May.

It was Mkhwanazi who replaced Cele when he was suspended in 2011 and later fired as the SAPS National Commissioner over his involvement in a shady R1.6-billion police headquarters rental deal involving Gauteng businessman Roux Shabangu. 

KZN has not had a permanent commissioner since the suspension of  Mmamonnye Ngobeni in May 2016, whose disciplinary has yet to be finalised.

African News Agency/ANA