Free State farmers are upset because a convicted cattle thief, Nomisela Nkotlo, continues to serve as a police officer in Hennenman’s police station.
She was arrested on a farm in neighboring Ventersburg in April last year along with other cattle thieves.
Nkotlo was convicted in November and sentenced to nine months in prison or a fine of R3 000.
According to information, Nkotlo works as an administrative officer on Hennenman.
Brig. However, provincial police spokesman Sam Makhele says people need to realize that police are subject to labor laws and procedures.
It’s been reported that a police officer convicted of a crime but given the option of a fine may still serve as a member, depending on the outcome of an internal post-conviction hearing.
Makhele explained that Nkotlo was initially found not guilty by the police in a disciplinary hearing. After that, however, she was convicted in the criminal trial.
Makhele said on inquiry: “We abide by the provisions of the law and there are ongoing internal steps against the member.”
Makhele said an internal hearing could again be held against a member who was previously found not guilty if new information emerged in a criminal case.
Makhele says police consider it in a very serious light if a police officer is convicted of a crime by the court.
“The member in question has certainly not been released and will be heard again, but it is important that the police comply with the provisions of the law and also labor laws,” he says.
When asked how long it would take for an internal hearing to take place since Nkotlo was already sentenced in November, he did not want to provide more details.
Makhele says a disciplinary hearing is a management function whose outcome should not be disclosed to the public.
He said cattle theft remains a priority crime for the police and the good relations between the police and farming communities speak to this.
Farmers spoke out sharply on social media groups last week after it was revealed that Nkotlo was still working as a police officer in Hennenman.
However, Makhele denied rumors that she had been found not guilty by police after being found guilty in court.
Tommie Esterhuyse, vice-chair of Free State Agriculture (FSA) says the organization has now asked to join Lt. Gen. Baile Motswenyane, Free State Police Commissioner, to discuss the matter.
Farmers feel the police are not taking stock theft seriously enough and that a member convicted of a crime does not belong in the service.