CRIME PREVENTION WARDENS
AmaPanyaza: Instructors claim they were not paid as Public Protector confirms investigation
It is still not clear when – or if – a Government Gazette will be published legalising the Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens and declaring them to be peace officers in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act. As this process is drawn out the confusion mounts. The group of former Department of Correctional Services officials who oversaw the wardens’ training claim they were not paid. And the SAPS top brass continue to distance themselves from the wardens until they are legally recognised as peace officers.
In January 2023, a group of nine former employees of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) were recruited to train the soon-to-be-established Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens.
In interviews with Daily Maverick, Colonel Isaac Shabangu, one of the most senior of the trainers and a former head of a maximum security prison, has explained in detail how the trainers spent most of the next four months at the Castle Inn Resort, near Cullinan, training 5,000 new recruits in “discipline, physical training, drill and preparation for the passing out parade.”
According to Shabangu, their jobs included:
- Administering the admission process upon arrival of each group of trainees.
- “Inflicting and maintaining discipline” and law and order at the training camp.
- Solving complaints and attending to requests made by students during the day, after hours and over weekends.
- Teaching students saluting, physical training/aerobics and drill lessons.
- Invigilating exams.
The Correctional Services trainers, he says “had the biggest numbers to handle. Because the majority of the traffic officials [who also played a role in training] were not trained as Instructors, each of us had to handle more than 250 to 300 students at a time. On some days we were the only ones left with the students because the few traffic officials could not come due to other operations they had to embark upon.
“There were days when no one was able to drive either in or out of Castle Inn Resort because of heavy rainy days. We had no choice but to handle the masses because we were staying/sleeping there.”
However, the trainers now claim that despite a verbal agreement with the general who recruited them on behalf of the Gauteng Department of Community Safety that they each would be paid R50,000 a month for their services, when the training ended they were left high and dry.
Now they are speaking out.
South Africa ‘must know the truth’
Maverick Citizen was contacted by several of the trainers after they hit a dead end in their efforts to address their non-payment through official channels.
“We have been over-patient with the office of the honourable Premier Lesufi and himself as an individual” says Colonel Shabangu:
“It is high time that South Africa knows the truth.”
According to Shabangu the group “tried by all possible means”, writing emails to both the MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko, “without any acknowledgement let alone response” and to Premier Lesufi “without acknowledgement of receipt let alone response”.
“Our aim by following protocol and being respectful to the office of the Premier and MEC was to avoid hanging our dirty linen in the public domain and handle our matter with dignity, respect and integrity … had we been shown respect we would not and were not considering going public.”
Maverick Citizen has seen emails and WhatsApps written to the Premier and MEC.
In a previous article, we reported an email from the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of the Department to General J (whose full name is known to us) who recruited the trainers.
Read more in Daily Maverick: AmaPanyaza crime prevention wardens hopelessly unqualified — whistle-blower
In the 15 February 2023 email, in which MEC Faith Mazibuko is copied, the CFO tells the general that he wants to formalise his “concerns” about “the instructors” being used by the department “without a contract”, and recommends (again) that “accredited instructors” be hired, pointing out how the “department has exposed itself to serious risks”.
“How are they going to be paid? (unless they are volunteering?” asks the CFO.
In response, Shabangu insists that all his team were Sasseta (Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority) accredited trainers.
He insists that they were not recruited “on a voluntary basis without any expectation of compensation”, as claimed by the general; he denies that they were there “with a very clear conscience of contributing to the ruling party targeting the 2024 elections as all of them are active members of the ruling party.”
Shabangu retorts: “At no stage was anything said about ANC membership. It would be very irregular and irrational to include politics in a state employment such as that of the Amapanyaza. Safe to say that not all of the nine ex-DCS Instructors are ANC.”
According to Shabangu, the trainers argue that “if it was agreed upon in the beginning that they were to volunteer they had no reason to turn around and demand payment”. He points to a WhatsApp message regarding their remuneration which he sent to the general on 11 June 2023, which the General responded to saying he had forwarded their request to the premier.
“If it is true that the ex-Instructors from DCS agreed to volunteer, the General should have responded like that to my WhatsApp enquiry”
“It is very strange that all service providers who rendered services at Castle Inn Resort were paid except the Ex Instructors from Correctional Services.” “Treat us as you would love to be treated Honorable Premier please, we respect you and your office, respect us and other families too”.
Wardens confirm role of ex-Correctional Services trainers
Daily Maverick has seen copies of the attendance register (known as the Z8) that was signed each day by the trainers.
In addition, we have spoken to several trainees, on condition of anonymity, who praised the work of the trainers.
One told us: “When we first arrived at camp for training we did not know anything about how to stand in the parade, how to drill or do platoon formation.”
They spoke highly of Shabangu and other trainers, calling them “the best of them all”, “very humble” and the “father of us”.
According to another, “teaching up to 1,000 people is not easy, yet they were still able to give attention to those who were struggling and make adjustments. For the three months that we were at the Castle Inn, they were there the whole time, including when we passed out in Tsakane.”
Questions about the allegations made by the instructors have been sent to General J as well as to Sizwe Pamla, spokesperson for the premier and the MEC for community safety. They were acknowledged but have not been responded to.
Still in legal limbo
The Public Protector has made public that it has commenced an investigation into “whether there were conduct failure in the establishment and deployment of Crime Prevention Wardens in Gauteng by the Premier”.
In a letter to advocate Paul Hoffman, the director of Accountability Now, in response to a complaint laid in September, Godwin Kock, senior investigator for the Public Protector in Gauteng, states that the matter “has been allocated to the PP’s Good Governance and Integrity Branch for further investigation”.
Meanwhile, it is still not clear when – or if – a Government Gazette will be published legalising the wardens and declaring them as peace officers.
According to Chrispin Phiri, spokesperson for the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, “The decision to gazette will be made once the three-way consultations [between the SAPS, Gauteng and Department] have been exhausted. These are still underway.”
As this process is drawn out the confusion mounts.
For example, last week, on 22 November, the Gauteng Provincial Police Commissioner issued a circular to all station commanders titled “Utilisation of Crime Prevention Wardens in the Community Service Centre for Performing SAPS duties”, which states that wardens are not allowed to act as commissioners of oaths “as they are not Peace Officers and therefore lacks the legal authority to do same”.
“No commander may under any circumstances allow the crime prevention warden to perform any duty that’s assigned to the SAPS”, states the circular.
The impasse seems to be irking Premier Lesufi.
Two weeks ago, on 12 November, Lesufi caused unhappiness when he launched an extraordinary public attack on the minister of police (without naming him), castigating him for not yet granting permission for the wardens to be classified as peace officers, and telling him “Your days are numbered”.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Amapanyaza: Gauteng premier launches extraordinary attack on minister of police
However, late that same evening, shortly after the publication of Daily Maverick’s report on Lesufi’s outburst, and as the TikTok video went viral, Lesufi appears to have realised the error of his words and the trouble it might cause him.
At 10.02pm he issued an apology on X in which he “noted with disappointment the slicing and leaking of a video recording of an internal presentation I made to a gathering of one of our alliance partners.”
Admitting that “the content came across as insensitive and threatening to a government Minister” [he still did not say which one] the Premier apologised and accepted “full responsibility for what I said”.
He concluded that “since our frustration with fighting crime flows from a genuine desire to make a difference we are actively pursuing a meeting with the relevant Ministers to clear the air and make amends”.
It is not known whether such a meeting has taken place.
However, Lesufi seems unrepentant. This weekend he reposted a tweet from an organisation called Constitution First, which called on him to “cut the diplomatic crap and put it in public that Bheki Cele and Ronald Lamola Don’t want crime to be fought in South Africa.”