Top police officers at the SAPS Tshwane Academy were unceremoniously removed from their posts after defying instruction to prepare grilled pork for Police Minister Bheki Cele’s lunch.
This after the cops argued the facility was Halaal-accredited.
The academy’s long-serving training commander Brigadier Paulus Mphenyeke and support services manager Colonel Freddie Bakker were redeployed with immediate effect to the national office by National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola for their recalcitrance.
Relating the matter, several independent police insiders alleged that SAPS top brass informed the academy that they would arrive there to discuss several issues. Matters under discussion included the building and servicing of police stations, SAPS garages, job creation, construction projects, detectives, and Mpumalanga retreat resolutions.
They suggested that pork should be served on the menu.
Mphenyeke and his team were given Cele’s menu in advance by his chief of staff Nonkululeko Phokane, three days before so they could have sufficient time to prepare the food.
The menu was contained in a note which reads in part: “Kindly assist with catering services for the meeting which the minister will conduct on Friday, 5 May 2023 at the SAPS Tshwane Academy in Pretoria.”
On the list of 25 menu items required for breakfast, lunch, and dessert, the word “compulsory” is written in brackets and in bold letters next to the item “grilled pork”.
Sunday World has learnt that ahead of Cele’s meeting, the commanders at the academy had voiced their disapproval of the pork order. They cited that the facility, like all others throughout the country, was Halaal accredited. “The Halaal compliance enabled SAPS to have a diverse pool of recruits to choose from,” said an insider.
“Mphenyeke suggested otherwise since the area is a Halaal area. It was later reported to the minister that Mphenyeke had gone against the pork decision, which led to him being transferred elsewhere.”
When Masemola arrived at the academy and found that the pork was not on the menu as demanded, he immediately removed the two senior cops from their posts.
Mphenyeke was told that he would be expected to go write curriculum for police training at the national office.
Mphenyeke was expected to take up the new post immediately or write representations against the intended transfer within 21 days.
Union officials showed Sunday World a copy of the letter issued to Mphenyeke, who was not at the academy when the redeployment instruction was issued. The letter noted that his transfer was “in the interest of the service and service delivery needs of the South African
Mphenyeke, who has been a commander at the academy since 2008, without promotion , has been described as an experienced and “dedicated” training officer by his colleagues.
His exit from the academy, which enrolled 2 500 recruits this year, was seen as a blow to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan to bolster the police services with 10 000 new recruits as the facility is the biggest in the country . “His exit has nothing to do with the students’ performance agreement. You also take this abrupt decision when the academy is expected to train recruits, and then you take one of the biggest commanders out. At that place, you cannot bring a person without experience. It would be a disaster,” said a close source.
Bakker, described by his co-workers as a reliable financial brain who has managed the academy’s more than R200-million procurement budget, will now be in charge of writing international memos, Sunday World heard.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe this week said: “The SAPS does not discuss its internal matters, which include the transfer or redeployment of members, in the public domain.”
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