Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) yesterday accused the head of South Africa’s elite crime fighting unit, the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations (Hawks), of suspending one of their shop stewards for an unknown offence and “running the police department like an instrument of the apartheid state”.
Suspending a Popcru union member before meeting with the union over the matter was, according to Popcru’s Tshwane regional secretary Herman Motshegoa, in breach of an earlier agreement signed between the union and the Hawks. Motshegoa added that this particular shop steward was being victimised.
“There are many other issues and one of them is about respecting agreements that were signed and the Labour Relations Act, which says, in brief, that before a shop steward can disciplined, the employer and the union should discuss the nature of the problem,” he said during a sit-in outside the Hawks’ offices yesterday.
According to Motshegoa, Hawks head Lieutenant General Berning Ntlemeza was also avoiding the union. While Hawks national spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the unit had sent a letter to the head office of the union to notify them of the shop steward’s suspension, the union claims not to have received the letter.
Mulaudzi further claims that Ntlemeza had met with Motshegoa and his team, but declined to provide further details. “The issue regarding the shop steward is between the employer and the employee,” Mulaudzi said.
Motshegoa maintains, however, that the union’s efforts to meet with Ntlemeza were rebuffed.
“We tried on several occasions to engage on this matter and we have not been given an opportunity to do that. We came here today without an appointment so that we must insist that we speak to the head in order to resolve the matter,” he told journalists yesterday.
The Hawks have since agreed to meet with Popcru today to discuss the matter of the shop steward.