Reported escalated concern about alleged over-expenditure by a member of the South African Policing Union’s (Sapu) national leadership on an official trip abroad and questionable labour practices are posed to have fuelled an arbitration case filed by its recently resigned Provincial Secretary.
In an interview with Polokwane Observer towards the end of last week, former Sapu Provincial Secretary Solly Bulala insisted that thus far his resignation without notice was being kept under wraps by the union in Limpopo and still remained a secret to its members. It was learnt that while he is involved in the establishment of a rival union, the vacancy created by his resignation could result in important cases going unattended in future as his unconditional dedication to assist members might not easily be matched.
Producing a copy of documentation in the arbitration against the union in the province, Bulala confirmed that he was awaiting a case number in the matter he was instituting.
Bulala claimed that two month-long suspensions levelled against him over a period of time, which he considered unlawful while not being charged, have led to his decision to resign. In the documentation made available to Polokwane Observer there is reference to a past complaint to the Sapu President about ill treatment, harassment and victimisation by Sapu leaders and a request for redress by the president of the structure to forge unity and stability in the organisation. Revisiting a scenario that he attested to having played out over a period of many months, Bulala indicated that a work-related situation imposed by the national leadership structure had become unbearable and led to a stressful scenario. Bulala said his stress levels had increased after an incident in the office during which he was assaulted by a subordinate in 2015 and his subsequent complaint lodged with the national leadership having fallen on deaf ears. Nothing had come of the issue and the colleague left Sapu’s employ last year, he added.
He stressed that the situation had largely been exacerbated by an order from Sapu Provincial Chairperson Daniel Ndlovu for him to direct a letter to Sapu General Secretary Oscar Skommere to object to an initial agreement on behalf of union members in Limpopo for action not to be taken against one of the union leaders for alleged overspending on a work trip to Mauritius on 15 to 21 November 2015. The money in question would have been for Sapu’s official account, despite each of the 23 national executive committee members being given R30 000 in spending money for an all-expenses paid official trip, he explained.
Bulala said the national leader had apparently initially secured support from the Sapu leaders in five of the nine provinces about a month after the trip to back him not to have to pay back extra expenses incurred on the trip. Bulala said he had found out about the issue when compelled to write the letter to retract Ndlovu’s undertaking when Ndlovu indicated he had initially made a mistake when agreeing to the arrangement without consultation on their members’ behalf. He was of the opinion that it would destroy the trust union members had in their leadership upon establishing the facts.
He said in addition the raising of a personal matter during two national executive committee meetings and the copying of email correspondence on the same matter to subordinates in the office by the national leadership in mid-last year, had further contributed to his indignation. Having subsequently been put on compulsory leave of a month from May to June last year had undermined his dignity, he maintained.
The last straw, Bulala pointed out, was the second month-long suspension that followed the appointment of a full-time shop steward without security screening in February this year, which was apparently effected following a decision by Ndlovu and Sapu Deputy General Secretary John Magagula. At the same time, he pointed out, two deductions had been made from his salary for two months without his consent for an arrangement out of the work context as well as costs related to an earlier work-related trip to Gauteng whereupon he was accused of having incurred a dent to a rental vehicle.
Bulala emphasised that the culmination of past occurrences has led to his resignation, and, in turn, the establishment of a new rival union to be steered from Limpopo, with Bulala at the helm of the structure. When launching it in the first half of the year still, the board would approach metro and local Police and traffic officials when recruiting across the country, he said.
Bulala concluded with the statement that his stance on corruption remained and that he would never hesitate to expose corrupt practices, even if it would endanger his life or career.
When phoned for response Ndlovu at first said there was nothing to comment on because they were still busy with the issues. However, he undertook to phone back after concluding with a meeting. The return call is still awaited. The number for Sapu’s national structure rang off the hook.
Story: YOLANDE NEL