Police face elite unit revolt
The elite Special Task Force police unit is facing a crisis as many of its highly trained members threaten to quit.
Unit members have, in an 11-page memorandum, accused police management of ignoring grievances about failure to pay special allowances, allowing training by unqualified people and changing unit standards without consultation.
There are Special Task Force bases in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town.
Fifty-seven of the 93 staff at the three bases want to be transferred to other units.
The memorandum, handed to police managers two months ago, alleges that overtime pay, and the R6300 scarce-skills allowance, have not been paid for two years.
The force's members are paid the same as officers of corresponding rank in the police.
But, because of their special training, they are eligible for the additional allowance.
If the transfers are approved, the force will lose about 60% of its manpower.
The revelation of the walkout threats follows a week in which force members killed eight heavily armed robbers and critically injured eight in three anti-crime operations in Gauteng.
A task force member said he and his colleagues were tired of being told lies.
"We are prepared to die for this country but this is how we are treated," said the officer, who asked not to be named.
"We have genuine concerns that can affect operations but we are ignored," he said.
The deputy general secretary of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, Lebogang Phepheng, warned that the threatened exodus could plunge the police into a crisis.
"Just look at the work [the task force] did this week - stopping a major cash depot robbery and freeing a doctor being held hostage."
The task force is on standby for the seasonal increase in cash-in-transit heists.
"How police management can ignore these complaints is unimaginable. Not only is management endangering these members' lives, it is also putting those of the public in jeopardy," Phepheng said.
Despite repeated assurances, police management has ignored the grievances for years.
"A meeting was held on October3 at the safety and security sectoral bargaining council, where management promised to investigate the grievances within a month. Nothing happened.
"More promises were made but two months later nothing has happened," Phepheng said.
Police spokesman Brigadier Phuti Setati said police management was aware of the concerns.
"A task team has been appointed to investigate the allegations," Setati said.