Wednesday, 09 September 2009

Drink while on duty?

This is one of the usual (or unusual?) things we are bound to come across on our daily lives. Some of us ignore them, pretending to be fine – while others do not and as a result, report these incidents to the relevant authorities.

In August this year South Africa’s The Times newspaper reported of 10 KwaZulu-Natal policemen — including a senior officer — who were alleged to have been found stolen “a consignment of confiscated beer and whisky, bunking work and taking it home to drink it”.

The officers, The Times newspaper reported at the time, “based at the police station in Melmoth, near Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal, were tasked with destroying a consignment of liquor seized from a local tavern” and to their advantage instead, or lack thereof, they helped themselves [my emphasis].

The newly MEC for transport, community safety and liaison at the time Willies Mchunu described the incident as the “most shameful and embarrassing” he had experienced since taking up his post from now police commissioner, Bheki Cele.

We have no place for officers who do not honour their badge and the uniform,” and drinking on duty is a very serious offence, but drinking while in police uniform is totally unforgivable, he said.

It was at the time reported that the men were suspended and would face internal disciplinary inquiry.

“Once all due processes are completed, I wish these officers to be permanently removed from the service so that they may have enough time to indulge in liquor.” And I hope you do just that!

However, whether this was conducted and the outcome thereof is not known from the date of the incident to date and that, he said, “adding to their hangover is the fact that they have been charged with corruption, and their case has been sent to the director of public prosecutions for a decision”.

Just a month that followed, September, The Times and South African Broadcasting Corporation reported of “five Pretoria police officers have been suspended after they were allegedly found drinking in a bar while on duty in Pretoria”.

Has this behaviour (or misconduct?), - due to lack of discipline in state departments or even private organizations – become a normal conduct and behaviour not contravening any of that particular organization’s or government department’s Code of Conduct, if any? especially in the SA's Police department?

Or are they just some of the bad apples trying to tarnish the image of the South African Police Serives, just like those soldiers who were on strike a week or two ago tried that of South African Defence Force, who, I think, MUST be gotten rid of for good before things get worse and start behaving like hooligans?

In a society and times we live in, what message does this send to our nation’s growing minds? Are we saying it is okay, allowed and therefore normal, or where do we draw the line in corporations and government departments?

Personally and if I were to be the boss for month or year and this was to happen in that period – unless to a great extent restricted by labour law “and having to prove beyond reasonable doubt” – I would fire on the spot!

In your working area or environment, how many of these indecents have you come across?

This may include some of your colleagues – some of whom you do not get along with and at times, for some weird reasons – or worse, government officials whose unfortunate actions you may or may not have reported of to their seniors or relevant authorities.

I have had no such incident. No, wait!

I think I have seen cops doing this and – as I though it to be normal in my growing up and their kind of employment at the time – I just never reported this to anyone.

But as of this day, although I may be requested to submit substantive evidence which at times is difficult, I will start to report anything of this conduct, or even worse, to the relevant authorities. And maybe you should consider doing the same!

And, it's bad to drink while on duty! Period!

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