Former Scorpions fear being shafted

Scorpions investigators planning to join the South African Police Service (SAPS) have called in a trade union after being offered what they believe is a worse pay deal than that offered by the National Prosecuting Authority.

The Public Service Association (PSA), to which a substantial number of former Scorpions investigators belong, has confirmed that some of its members have declined the “unconditional” acceptance of terms and conditions offered by the SAPS.

After the unit was disbanded Scorpions were given three options: resign and receive a severance package, move to the SAPS or be deployed to another state department. Those who chose the police were promised the same pay and conditions.

But because of the SAPS’s different salary structure a number of Scorpions investigators may ultimately get a worse deal than they had at the NPA.

The PSA’s Manie de Clercq said Scorpions wanting to become police officers had to confirm their intentions by May 27. “But in those letters they were made offers.
We fear that if they unconditionally accept them, some terms and conditions of their service won’t be protected.”

The PSA has instructed an attorney, who has written to acting police chief Tim Williams and acting prosecutions boss Mokotedi Mpshe. “The purpose of the letter was to go on record about certain terms and conditions that have not been clarified. The acceptance [of SAPS jobs] can’t be unconditional,” De Clercq said.

He added that a number of issues still needed to be explained, including:

  • Scorpions with the rank of special investigator will become senior superintendents in the police. But what if they land up in a district that already has enough senior superintendents?
  • The NPA works on a total cost-to-company package structure that includes the employer’s contributions to a medical scheme. The SAPS pays the police medical fund, Polmed, directly and the payments are not included in total packages, on which pensions are based. This, De Clercq said, will lead to ex-Scorpions receiving lower pensions.
  • The Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI), which replaces the Scorpions, has between 500 and 700 vacancies. The Scorpions had more than 430 investigator positions, of which 137, according to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, will be transferred to the DPCI.

But it is rumoured that more than 3 500 people, including Scorpions and SAPS officials, have applied for DPCI posts and a number of Scorpions fear being sidelined in favour of police officers. There is also a fear that the SAPS will treat ex-Scorpions poorly, with talk of sending them to remote or dangerous police stations.

De Clercq said the NPA is still waiting for the police to respond and an approach to the Labour Court is an option if the response is “unsatisfactory”.

Mthethwa’s spokesperson, Panyaza Lesufi, said negotiations are ongoing and the SAPS’s door “is still open” for Scorpions who have not joined the service. The deadline for administrative issues to be finalised is July 1.

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