Police Minister Bheki Cele.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has brushed off threats of a looming strike by thousands of SAPS members who feel aggrieved at the recent promotions dispute as non-existent.

The Star reported on Monday that thousands of police officers were mulling the idea of industrial action on March 18 due to grievances over an agreement, which was signed in December, that allegedly promoted specialised departments - including the unit commonly known as Amaberete - at the expense of mainly station members.

Speaking at the SAPS's Gauteng headquarters on Thursday, Cele said that although he and the SAPS leadership had read in the mainstream and social media that police industrial action as well as a go-slow were being mooted, he was not worried about an impending strike as the grievances were made by "faceless" people not known to police. 

"People that call people to strike... they know they are breaking the law. Our members must not fall for it.

"We don't have information (on looming strike action) - we won't have a shadow boxing. We are not going to prepare for something we don't know," Cele said. 

The row among police officers nationwide stems from a pledge the minister made in Parliament in May last year, where Cele said he would begin to address the backlog of 69 290 SAPS members, whom he said deserved promotion.

An agreement was signed in December by the SAPS's national leadership and the Police and Prison Civil Rights Union, which is the majority organisation in the sector.

The SA Police Union did not sign the agreement, saying it excluded thousands of offices at the expense of others.

Cele conceded that implementation of the promotion process, which he said had reduced the backlog to just over 45 000, might have a few snags and delays, but that he was confident that promotions would be reduced. 

Memoranda and voice messages that had been shared on social media among officers, mainly based at charge offices and not in specialised units, decried the manner in which police promotions had been handled.

One memorandum stated that the Amaberete - had allegedly promoted their constables to “warrant officers while station members are left behind”.

“How shameful of the SAPS and its minister to promote such nonsense. Station members are paying with their lives on a daily basis. Station members are in the forefront of the battle and in the firing line.

“Where are these specialised units when station members are killed left, right and centre without any promotion?” the note read.