Police trainers say general picked out and insulted whites

12 February 2017 - 02:00 By SIPHE MACANDA

Police training officers have lodged a complaint of racism and discrimination against a senior policewoman after she allegedly "insulted and ridiculed" them in front of their colleagues.

During a visit to the Oudtshoorn police training academy, the national head of basic police development, Major-General Sandra Malebe-Thema, apparently made all the white trainers in the room stand up.

After saying the group was "too white", she told a woman she was too fat and then attacked them for earning more than their black colleagues, saying: "Whites think they are too good to work in lower-level posts."

South African Policing Union president Mpho Kwinika said: "You cannot have a senior official rebuking them in front of their juniors."

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Seventeen officers have laid a complaint with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and the South African Human Rights Commission.

In an affidavit by Solidarity, which is representing the complainants, Malebe-Thema is accused of verbally abusing them.

Captain Riana Viviers said in her affidavit Malebe-Thema criticised her weight. "Her words were: 'Look at you, look at your weight. You are fat. '"

Warrant Officer Esmari Mulder said: "People were requested to state their salary levels and, wherever it was an African member with a lower level, her disgust was visible. The general also expressed that the white people in the academy do not want to transform."

In 2013 Malebe-Thema resigned after a misconduct probe, but was re-employed after acting commissioner Khomotso Phahlane took office in 2015.

Solidarity's Anton van der Bijl said SAPS internal processes had been exhausted.

Police spokeswoman Brigadier Sally de Beer said the issue fell "within the ambit of an employer-employee relationship. We will therefore deal with the matter according to prescripts and not via the media."