Police officers from several units – including the national intervention unit, the special task force, VIP protection services and public order policing – were deployed in different stages after the failed coup.
At the time Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said the SAPS were deployed to Lesotho to provide and attain long-term political and security stability in the country at the request of the Southern African Development Community.
Now more than 80 officers say they want to sue the police over unpaid subsistence allowances.
“They didn’t tell us anything. They told us just to go there and then they will sort out our payments. That didn’t happen,” said a sergeant with 13 years’ experience, now working for the VIP Protection Services in Gauteng.
“When we started asking questions they became arrogant and refused to give us any answers. It’s been more than two years now that I have been waiting for my money,” the sergeant said.
Mpho Kwinika, president of the SA Police Union, said the union was aware of the issue and would support those wanting to take legal action.
Kwinika said police officers received a subsistence allowance whenever they were deployed away from their homes, including for international deployment.
One of the officers driving the move to take legal action against the police said he and the others were “fed up” with management after being “sent from pillar to post”.
“They dumped us there with weapons and no money. I was well armed with an R5 and grenades in another country, but I didn’t have money to buy food,” said a warrant officer also working for VIP protection services with 27 years’ experience in the police.
“There was not a single visit by senior management while we were in Lesotho. No one came to see if we were okay,” he said.
The police officer said he was deployed to Lesotho on December 1 2014 and received the first payment of allowances due to him only six weeks later. One more payment followed but a further R26,000 is outstanding, he said.
“We were supposed to be paid the moment we left. Failing that, it was supposed to follow a day or two after. That didn’t happen and now the system says we’ve been paid.
“I’m very disappointed. The circumstances we faced were terrible.”
Two other officers also claimed they were owed allowances.
National police spokesman Brigadier Sally de Beer said SAPS management was aware of the claims, but would not deal with labour relations issues in the press.
“The members with legitimate concerns are advised to activate internal processes at their disposal to enable resolutions on issues of concern.
“All attempts will be made by management to find a resolution to any such issues.”