CROOKED BLUE LINE
Overlooked SAPS recruits determined to be recognised by latest recruitment drive
Unsuccessful police trainee applicants from a previous year arrived at bus pick-up spots for new recruits for 2023 on Friday, determined to join the new intake. An investigation is under way to determine whether the selection process was flawed, amid allegations of bribery.
The group are claiming they were omitted from the final list of recruits selected for 2022 and that their names were allegedly replaced with the names of people who reportedly paid bribes to recruitment officers.
The group has demanded to be part of the new recruit intake for 2023 and to be on the buses that will be transporting new recruits to police academies.
Among the Cape Town-based SAPS applicants who congregated at Cape Town Parade on Friday was Xolani Nyengule from Khayelitsha, whose aspirations of following in the footsteps of his late mother, Sergeant Noluthando Nyengule, who died on March 26, 2017, were dashed.
At 10am on Friday, Nyengule, Sinovuyo Gwaza, Bonga Dasa (all from Khayelitsha) and Busiswa Nogitshwana from Nyanga waited for others to join them. The group grew gradually, and by 11am more people had joined them. According to Dasa, more than 100 SAPS trainees were denied the chance to be among the 10,000 new Constables who paraded out across the country in December 2022.
Other gatherings of SAPS recruits claiming to have passed all tests yet were overlooked are set to take place across the country on Saturday. Among the SAPS trainees who will gather in Kimberley will be a recruit Daily Maverick spoke to (who chose to remain anonymous). She claims she passed her test, received her police uniform, participated in a dress rehearsal on 14 December 2022, and was told at 5am on 16 December 2022 that she needed to hand back her uniform because she failed one of her tests. Her salary was stopped in January 2023.
The challenge by the group comes after whistleblower and former officer Patricia Mashale, who is spearheading the fight for despondent SAPS recruits, learnt of Saturday’s planned gathering. She also informed SAPS that trainees who had been overlooked would be standing in line and boarding buses to the various SAPS Academies.
On Friday national police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe explained that the 2023 recruitment and selection process had reached an advanced stage and successful applicants will be notified when to report for duty.
Earlier this month a parliamentary committee heard that SAPS had begun a forensic review in June 2022 to determine whether there had been irregular appointments of recruits in ‘Project 10,000’. Mathe also confirmed that a national investigation is in motion to determine whether procedures were flouted during the hiring process.
So far three arrests have been made in an alleged police recruitment corruption scandal.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Fears that scores of recruits paid for entry into SA police colleges
Xolani Nyengule failed all of his exams in 2017, but returned in 2018 to retake them. He passed that time, but the procedure was halted due to Covid-19. He registered again in 2022 and passed.
“I passed all of my tests and am still awaiting acceptance to the SAPS Academy. What SAPS did to us was disheartening. It breaks my heart to see my peers flourishing and placing food on the table, changing their families’ lives.
“I desperately wanted to follow in the footsteps of my late mother, who died on March 26, 2017. For 14 years, she worked as a detective sergeant. My mother was the breadwinner, and now I live with my brother, and it’s unfortunate that I can’t help with the food,” he said.
He is one of at least 10,000 despondent SAPS trainees begging SAPS to give them a fair chance of becoming police officers.
On Friday, Mashale told Daily Maverick: “There is an investigation into the allegations of corruption and bribery relating to the intake of SAPS trainees last year.
“Our request to SAPS is that the 2023 intake of new recruits be postponed until the investigation is finished, or that the 1,000 SAPS trainees who were illegally overlooked last year be included in the new intake lists.”
Regarding the buses picking up new recruits for 2023, she reiterated: “No bus will leave without us, not this time. Suspend the process and start calling the rightful applicants to get themselves ready for college. We will be at the departure points on the set date.”
Meanwhile, Bethuel Nkuna, president of the Independent Policing Union of South Africa (Ipusa), explained that the investigation is a difficult process and could be hampered by new constables, who allegedly paid bribes and started on 16 December 2022, being afraid to come forward to protect their careers.
On the forensic investigation, Mathe added, “The forensic audit unto allegations of corruption on the recruitment and selection process of the 2022 Basic Police Learning Development Training Programme [BPLDP] process has reached an advanced stage with three people arrested thus far.”
Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesperson Lizzy Suping said: “Our investigation is ongoing and as soon as we’ve concluded the investigation, we will pronounce on the outcome.” DM
Daily Maverick has contacted SAPS for comment and will update the story once received.