Kelesitse cops it with men in blue

Thembela Khamango

Thembela Khamango

A trainee police officer has been suspended from the police service because she is pregnant.

Kelesitse Gaanakgomo, 25, received the shock of her life when she was declared medically unfit because she is pregnant.

"I'm fit to perform my duties so it came as a shock when I was suspended. I would have been happy to work until I was eight months pregnant," said Gaanakgomo, who is in the sixth month of her pregnancy.

Gaanakgomo joined the SAPS as a trainee in July 2005. She completed the course and began her 12-month probation period last year at Warrenton, near Kimberley. On March 26 she was suspended for six months and her monthly stipend of R4700 was stopped.

The basis for her suspension is that her medical condition renders her incapable of undergoing the prescribed training.

National human resource manager for the SAPS, Selby Bokaba, said Gaanakgomo violated her employment contract by not disclosing that she was pregnant.

"But her contract was not terminated, she has only been suspended until she is fit to work again," said Bokaba.

He said that pregnancy falls under "medical condition", which automatically renders Gaanakgomo unfit to perform her police duties.

He stressed she was unable to perform office duties because a trainee on probation was required to function in all areas of police work, including attending crime scenes.

"As soon as her condition improves she will continue where she left off," said Bokaba.

South African Human Rights Commission chairman, Jody Kollapen, said the society needed to be wary of all forms of discrimination.

"Pregnancy is natural. If she is suspended for not being able to perform her duties because she is pregnant, that is discrimination," said Kollapen.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesman, Pat Ntsobi, said it was aware of irregularities concerning police trainees and were "talking to the Department of Safety and Security".

"She should be allowed to complete the theory and finish the physical training after the birth," said Ntsobi.