Johannesburg - Thousands of police officers around the country have threatened to go on strike following a dispute over promotions.
This is despite being classified as essential service staff.
Memoranda and voice messages shared on social media among officers, mainly based at charge offices and not in specialised units, decry the manner in which police promotions have been handled.
One memorandum states that the police's specialised units - including the unit commonly known as Amaberete - have 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 reads.
Reneilwe Serero, spokesperson for Police Minister Bheki Cele, referred all queries to National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole's office.
Brigadier Vish Naidoo, Sitole's spokesperson, said the police were aware of the circulation from “a faceless person(s)” but had not received any formal complaints.
Disgruntled officers have accused unions - the SA Police Union (Sapu) and Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) - of failing to represent them.
“These unions must go and we must get unions that actually fight for us. What have Sapu and Popcru done for us?
“Other essential workers go on strike. We are the only essential workers who do not strike! When will we make sure our voices are heard? Our families are struggling.”
Officers who spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity said there was extreme anger over the nature of police promotions, where it was felt that specialised units were receiving preferential treatment.
An SAPS statement on Friday said more than 32000 members had been promoted in the current financial year, including the re-grading of 3636 specialised-unit members, who are “highly trained and skilled personnel (dealing) with medium to high-risk crimes”.
Police said these progressions were to boost employee morale and reward good performances, and had been done following extensive negotiations with Sapu and Popcru.
However, Sapu general secretary Tumelo Mogodiseng rejected the SAPS’s views, saying the union had not signed this agreement because it was “a typical apartheid-style divide-and-rule tactic”.
“It is the reality of the bargaining process that the SAPS and Popcru connived and came with this agreement that left thousands of functionary members out,” Mogodiseng said.
But Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo slammed Sapu, adding: “We pride ourselves that, for the first time in history, we have concluded such a collective agreement.
"It has always been our view that the current entry-level posts in the entire SAPS are disproportionate. Therefore, we challenge any union who feels that Popcru has sold out to advise their members to take back those ranks that they have received to the SAPS and negotiate a better deal for them.”