Fight against crime is hampered
Allegations of racial tension between black and white police officers have surfaced at the Newcastle police station in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Though concerned police officers believe that if this issue is not dealt with immediately it could severely hamper the fight against crime, police leaders in the region said they were unaware of the simmering tensions.
In the latest incident a white woman officer had to be transferred to a nearby police station after refusing to take orders from her black superior.
Recently a black police officer was arrested by a white detective for allegedly stripping state vehicles. Now black officers at the station say white detectives went all out to oppose the officer's bail because he is black and not because he is a threat to a "white" witness. The magistrate eventually set bail at R20000.
A group of concerned black officers - Indian and African - are hoping that someone will be bold enough to take it further, but told Sowetan that people fear for their jobs.
"In 2003 a black officer spoke out about a white officer who allegedly shot dead a hawker. The officer received death threats. Instead of action being taken against the cop who fired the shot, the woman who raised the matter was transferred to another police station.
"No charges were brought against the alleged gunman," one officer said.
Station director Khombinkosi Jula said he was shocked by the alleged racism.
"My members have not talked to me about these issues. They know what channels to follow to raise their concerns," he said.
Meanwhile, Police and Civil Rights Union (Popcru) provincial spokesman Kwenza Nxele said that racism existed was a well-known fact in most South African police stations.
"This is a huge challenge facing the police in South Africa. The process of transformation is moving at a snail's pace and the mechanisms for making it work are not being implemented. If not properly handled this will have a negative impact in our fight against crime," he said.