/ 9 September 2011

Fired Popcru official wants her post back

Police captain Ntombizakhe Mcaba, fired as the first vice-president of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union’s (Popcru) last year after calling for an external investigation into alleged financial irregularities involving Popcru leaders, has won her court battle for reinstatement.

However, Mcaba said this week that the post was filled at the union’s congress in June this year.

“I want to go back to my job. But how is Popcru going to cope with two first vice-presidents? Why did they fill my post?” Mcaba asked.

Mcaba was seconded from the police in 2001 and elected vice-president in 2007.

After her dismissal she returned to the police forensic science division in Pretoria.

In the South Gauteng High Court last week Judge Dimpheletse Moshidi said that Mcaba had appealed to the union’s congress against the termination of her membership, which she claimed was procedurally flawed and unfair.

The judge highlighted contradictions in the version offered by the union, which suggested that the application was premature, as the congress was still to hear her appeal.

“What is, however, patent is that the applicant was never informed of an appeal hearing,” Moshidi found.

He added that as Mcaba was elected at a national congress, she could only be removed by the conference, not by Popcru.

‘Next course of action’
Popcru spokesperson Norman Mampane said the union was studying the judgment and would decide on the “next course of action”.

Mcaba told the Mail & Guardian that at a meeting of Popcru’s national executive committee (NEC) last year she had proposed that Cosatu should investigate an open letter containing allegations against union president Zizamele Cebekhulu and national treasurer Themba Matsane.

“In my view, Cosatu would play an independent role and investigate the letter and its allegations — to clear the president’s and national treasurer’s names,” she said.

The meeting decided that the matter should not be investigated because the open letter was unsigned, she said.

At a subsequent meeting she objected that the minutes of the NEC meeting did not capture what she had said about the letter and an independent investigation.

On December 5 Mcaba said she had received an SMS from Popcru general secretary Nkosinathi Theledi informing her that a special NEC session had resolved to remove her as vice-president and from Popcru with immediate effect.

Deputy general secretary Lebogang Phepheng also sent her a registered letter stating that a central executive committee on December 6 had determined that her Popcru membership had been terminated.

The M&G 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 members’ expense. Lawyers acting for the leaders have denied all claims of impropriety.

Concerned Popcru members urged Cosatu to mediate, but no investigation has been launched.

Before the Popcru congress, the union expelled members around the country and interdicted them from organising and attending union meetings or entering the union’s offices.

The expelled members, including Mcaba, claim this was intended to prevent them from attending the congress, where they planned to raise the allegations.

At the time Theledi said the members had been interdicted to prevent them from “assaulting, intimidating, harassing or otherwise threatening anybody in Popcru”.