/ 10 June 2011

Mass expulsions ahead of Popcru polls

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), which is facing serious allegations of graft and mismanagement, has expelled members around the country and interdicted them from organising and attending union meetings, or entering its offices.

The expelled members say the move is intended to prevent them from attending the union’s elective congress next week, where they planned to discuss the corruption allegations.

Last week, Popcru was granted an interim interdict in three separate legal actions in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape, which will effectively prevent many members from attending next week’s national congress. The matters have all been postponed to later court dates. Popcru says it has expelled all these members.

Sixteen members have been interdicted in Cape Town, according to their legal representative, advocate Douglas Kela, but it is still to be determined how many have been affected in other areas.

“Popcru obtained an interim order against many members,” said Kela. “These applications were ex parte, which means that many respondents did not get served papers and Popcru got an interim interdict against them.

“Some of the respondents heard about the interdict applications at their police stations.

“It prevents the members from participating at the congress,” he said. “It also prevents them from taking over offices around the country.” Kela said the members did not recognise their expulsion as they had not been called to an inquiry.

“They did not want us to attend the national congress,” said a police officer in Cape Town, who is one of the expelled members, but who asked not to be named. “This is where our elections are held and we were planning to discuss the corruption allegations.”

However, Popcru general secretary Nathi Theledi denied there was any link between the interdicts and the national congress and dismissed claims by some members that the elections were being rigged.

“The leadership is not involved in this process. The interdict has got nothing to do with discussion of leadership for the upcoming congress, but prevents respondents from assaulting, intimidating, harassing or otherwise threatening anybody in Popcru.”

Police Captain Ntombizakhe Mcaba, who was fired as Popcru’s first vice-president in December last year after calling for an external investigation into allegations of financial irregularity, said she had learnt her position would be filled at the congress.

“I was fired without any disciplinary hearing,” said Mcaba. “Popcru then sent a letter to the South African Police Service saying I had been dismissed as a shop steward. My position is apparently going to be filled while I am still in the process of appealing against my expulsion.”

The Mail & Guardian has run a series of exposés of allegations of corruption at Popcru, which include claims that some union officials are living high on the hog at the expense of members.

A former board member of the Popcru Group of Companies (PGC), Meshack Mpemva, has laid a charge against Popcru president Zizamele Cebekhulu, treasurer Themba Matsane, PGC chief executive Zwilenkosi Mdletshe and the chairperson of the PGC remuneration committee, Sibusiso Maphatiane, accusing them of financial irregularities. Lawyers acting on behalf of the four leaders have denied all claims of impropriety.