An apparent argument over office space led to a senior Limpopo police commander allegedly calling a junior officer the k-word.
Now allegations have emerged that provincial police management is attempting to cover up the incident by having the junior ranked policeman‚ Sergeant Moses Molepo‚ charged for misconduct.
Molepo‚ who on Tuesday opened a criminal case against the Mankweng station commander‚ Brigadier Eddie Enslin‚ has now turned to the SA Human Rights Commission for help.
This publication has learnt the case of alleged racism is one of several the commission is investigating against different Limpopo police officers.
Approached for comment‚ Enslin referred this publication to the provincial police headquarters.
Molepo declined to comment‚ also referring this publication to provincial police management‚ the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and the commission.
The commission’s Limpopo head‚ Victor Mavhidula‚ confirmed Molepo had laid a complaint of racism with their office on Tuesday.
“The matter will be processed and assessed. After the assessment‚ if it falls within our mandate‚ we will investigate. Depending on the outcome of the assessment appropriate steps will be taken‚” said Mavhindula.
He confirmed the commission was investigating several other cases of alleged racism involving Limpopo police officials.
“One of those cases is before the Equality Court‚” he said.
Mavhidula declined to comment on the identities of those in the other cases.
Limpopo Popcru provincial secretary Nelson Maisela said the alleged incident involving Molepo and Enslin occurred while offices at the police station were under renovation.
He said members‚ who had been told to occupy certain offices by their respective commanders‚ were allegedly ordered by Enslin to vacate the offices.
“Molepo‚ who is a Popcru shop steward‚ went to discus with Enslin where the members were to move to. It was during the discussion‚ which Molepo was having in his capacity as a shop steward‚ that there was an apparent disagreement.
“We have been told – and we have no reason not to believe our shop steward – that Enslin allegedly hurled racial insults at Molepo. There was also apparently a physical scuffle.”
Maisela said the incident was reported to Popcru’s provincial secretary‚ Hangwani Mashao‚ who visited the station to establish what had happened.
“The [station] commander‚ however‚ refused to engage with him‚” he said.
Maisela said Mashao reported the incident to the provincial police management‚ who began an internal investigation. But then the waters got muddier.
“We were left in the dark about the findings. We recently established the investigators charged Molepo with misconduct. We tried to engage with police management about the investigation‚ but to no avail.”
He said the union was concerned that management was punishing Molepo instead of investigating the allegations against Enslin.
“This is not the first time cases of racism in the province have been swept under the carpet‚ with police management going soft on those behind such behaviour.”
He said other cases included the alleged assault of the Modimolle police station commander‚ by an officer from Bela Bela police station‚ and the attack on a Groblersdal police station officer by a fellow colleague.
“In the Modimolle case‚ the only thing that happened to the alleged culprit was that he was suspended without pay. In the Groblersdal case‚ although a criminal case has been opened‚ the officer‚ who is facing criminal charges‚ has not been suspended.
“Our requests for clarity on these matters is ignored by provincial police management.”
Limpopo police spokesman‚ Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo‚ said about the Molepo matter that a case of assault and crimen injuria was being investigated by a senior officer.
“So far no arrests have been made‚” he said.
Asked about the internal departmental investigation‚ its outcome and whether Molepo had been charged and Enslin suspended‚ Mojapelo said both members had been charged departmentally.
“Internal processes are underway. The suspension or not of any member is an internal matter‚” he said.
Mojapelo said they could not make outcome public “as these are matters between the employer and employees”.
On the commission’s investigation‚ Mojapelo said police had not been officially informed of any complaint lodged with the HRC.
He said the province’s police management was not investigating any other incidents of racism involving police.
On the Groblersdal and Modimolle cases‚ Mojapelo said the assault case for the Groblersdal incident had been provisionally withdrawn‚ while the Modimolle case of assault with the intent to commit grievous bodily harm was currently before the courts.
“The SAPS in the province will not tolerate any form of racism. This is the reason a senior police officer has been appointed to investigate the [Molepo] complaint.”