Brigadier suspended allegedly for lying when giving reasons to suspend officers
Johannesburg - A senior police officer stationed in the Northern Cape has been placed on suspension for allegedly lying in giving reasons to suspend officers without pay.
Brigadier Adri Basson was suspended on Wednesday following a court order that set aside the suspensions he had instituted following a disciplinary hearing of 12 officers in November 2020.
Labour union Popcru approached the Labour Court following the suspensions and argued that Basson had misled the employer leading to the suspensions. The court ruled in their favour and the members' suspension without pay was set aside.
In a complaint sent to the employer on February 3 by union representative Malose Seanego, the union detailed the Brigadier's conduct, arguing that he ill-treated members. According to the union, on November 13, 2020, the charged employees received Notices to Appear before Basson on November 26 and 17, 2020.
"All charged employees were in attendance on the date of the hearing and Basson as chairperson confirmed their presence through a roll call. The proceedings started at 9am until 16.10pm and were officially recorded," the union said.
Of the twelve employees charged, six were represented by Seanego who is a Popcru full-time shop steward and the other six were without a representative. The employees requested to be represented by their shop steward as well and a request was made inside the proceedings during the introduction.
"Seanego acceded to the request of the six charged employees, and subsequently, requested a postponement for three days to adequately consult with them and Basson refused to grant postponement but ruled that only thirty minutes will suffice for consultation," said the union.
Despite protest from the shop steward, Basson is said to have maintained his ruling and the hearing proceeded. Around 1pm, the shop steward sought permission to fetch his children from school and returned in an hour and the hearing proceeded.
"At 16.07pm, employees signalled to the representative that the time has gone beyond official working hours and this was brought to the attention of Basson by Seanego.
“In response to the submission, Basson indicated to the representative that he (Seanego) has already wasted time by fetching children from school; therefore, he will proceed with the hearing beyond normal working hours. Seanego asked Basson to seek permission from the charged employees as to whether they will be able to proceed after working hours or not," the union said.
Basson is said to have been enraged by the request and he allegedly informed the employees to consider the recusal of Seanego as their representative and further warned them that should they retain him as their representative, he would impose suspensions.
"And in accordance with his warning, he enquired from each one of them whether they still wanted to be represented by Seanego and all responded in the affirmative except one Captain Jacobs. Following their responses, he pronounced suspensions on those who stuck to being represented by Seanego, postponed the hearing indefinitely and walked out of the boardroom. He indicated that they would be served with suspension notices the following day (November 27, 2020)," said the union.
The employees were called to the HR office the next day and served with Notices of Suspension in terms of Regulations 9(7) (a) which read: "you are hereby informed that you are deemed to be suspended from the Service without any remuneration, with effect from 2020-11-26. This suspension is as a result of failure to appear at the hearing on 2020-11-26 to answer to the charge(s) as stated in the Notice and to remain in attendance."
The employees requested the hearing be moved to December 15, 2020, but Basson requested the date be moved to January 12 to 14, 2021. The union said the charged employees duly attended the sitting on the said date and were represented by another Popcru member named Ntimane.
"Upon enquiry by Ntimane into the reasons for the employees' suspension, Basson indicated on the record that the suspension was as a result of the conduct of the employees' previous representative, Seanego and maintained that the employees will remain suspended," the union said.
Popcru, in its complaint, questioned how Basson, who is the head of legal, could deliberately lie to make sure that the members were suspended.
"It is apparent that Brigadier Basson deliberately misled the employer about the actual reason for the suspension of the charged employees. The deliberate misleading constitutes dishonesty," said the union.
The Sunday Independent has established that Basson himself was under investigation for allegedly assaulting a member of the Dog Unit in Kimberly. Popcru added that it is not the first incident he is currently finding himself under scrutiny for.
"He was found guilty in 2018 for assaulting Northern Cape Provincial Secretary of Popcru and was sanctioned one suspended salary. Therefore, it is evident that Brigadier Basson's questionable conduct, which is not in line with the Disciplinary Code of the South African Police Service, henceforth cannot preside over disciplinary matters of the department," the union said.
This week, a senior SAPS member confirmed to the publication that Basson had been suspended.
Asked if she can confirm that Basson is under investigation for assault and malicious damage to property, SAPS spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said the matter in question was being attended to criminally and departmentally.
"On the criminal matter, on completion of the investigation, the docket will be forwarded to the DPP for a decision, and on the departmental matter, this is an internal process for which due processes are being followed and the details of which cannot be disclosed in the public domain. Please note that the identity of the person in question cannot be disclosed at this early stage for both investigations," she said.
Basson could not be reached for comment.