Rich cop, poor cop: The glaring gap between the haves and the have-nots in the police force
Suspended senior police officers — including some declared unfit to hold public office, and others accused of murder and fraud are allowed to hang onto their jobs for years and draw salaries, costing taxpayers millions of rands a year.
But newly appointed Police Minister Fikile Mbalula plans to put an end to the idle careers of dozens of officers on suspension by appointing their permanent replacements.
Many of the suspended officers are hanging on come what may until they are eligible for retirement and entitled to pensions and other state benefits.
National police commissioner Riah Phiyega and disgraced crime intelligence chief Richard Mdluli have to date cost taxpayers more than R15-million between them in salaries and other benefits since their suspensions. Phiyega, suspended in October 2015 on her full annual salary of R1.9-million, was in January declared unfit to hold office by the Claassen Commission of Inquiry, a finding she is contesting.
Mdluli, who has been on suspension for six years, is on trial for kidnapping, assault and murder. He earns roughly R1.8-million a year. Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, the acting national police commissioner, is under investigation by the police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, over allegations of corruption. Phiyega’s five-year employment contract ends in July. Mdluli is due for retirement later this year.
“These people are simply winding down the clock to retirement. “There are police members arrested for far less controversy who are immediately disciplined, found guilty and fired, yet disciplinary hearings of senior officers are dragged out.”
Richard Mamabolo, spokesman for the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, said employing people in an acting capacity meant that taxpayers were paying the salaries of two for the services of one.
“There has to be speedy resolutions to disciplinary hearings to stop the abuse of the taxpayer. “People must receive fair trials, but if they are found guilty they must be fired.’’
Mbalula, speaking after the sacking of disgraced Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza, said: “We have explained this (the ending of acting positions) to top management. There are challenges. The Phiyega matter is one. Phiyega’s contract is coming to an end and we know the issues around that. “But I say this: before the end of the year all vacancies will be filled so we do not have acting posts.”