Police chief’s resignation ‘must warn others’

Henry

Solidarity hopes the sudden resignation of a senior Western Cape police officer will encourage other officials to refrain from reckless or false racial accusations in the workplace. Brig. Nokuthula Pete, commander of the Paarl police station, resigned last week after a racial storm erupted around her.

“This should be seen as a warning to those who take racism complaints lightly,” said Renate Pieterse, network coordinator of the public industry at Solidarity.

RNews reported on a Facebook post from December 2023 in which Pete indicated, among other things, that the Paarl police are “too white”. Pete also mentioned in a post that the Paarl police station needs a lieutenant colonel in the financial department and that she will handle the transfer herself to ensure that the white supremacy in the police station changes.

Pieterse now says a lesson can be learned from this incident. “This is a situation that occurs too often in various work environments, including the police, and it needs attention.” Pieterse emphasized that such allegations can have serious consequences, and there are several recent examples of how they have been used as a weapon against innocent employees.

Solidarity was previously involved in cases where false racial accusations were made, such as the complaint against Maj. Gen. Sandra Malebe-Thema in November 2016. The organization exerted further pressure by approaching the labor court in May 2017 in order to force the South African Police Service (SAPD) to start an internal investigation against Malebe-Thema.

Pieterse also referred to two members of the SAPS who for col. Annemarie Oosthuizen falsely accused her of using the k-word. These two warrant officers, Sedisa Tikoe and Chris Mphana, were dishonorably dismissed from the SAPS. They were also criminally charged and convicted, and received suspended prison terms.

“Oosthuizen’s story is probably the clearest message yet that false accusations of racism – especially in the workplace – are not tolerated. This finding sends a clear message to employers that their failure to act against racial thugs in the workplace will no longer be tolerated and may have serious legal consequences,” Pieterse declares.

Pieterse emphasizes that Solidarity is determined to intervene where officials may abuse them. The organization will continue to fight against injustices and false accusations, wherever they occur.