Police ‘grounded’ as white pilots are passed over


White pilots have been refused employment in the South African Police Service (SAPS) despite there being 53 vacancies and a critical shortage of pilots to carry out vital police flying, Democratic Alliance (DA) deputy police spokeswoman Debbie Schäfer says.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has acknowledged that when 53 vacancies for pilots were advertised recently, there were 120 applications but in the interests of “representivity” only four new pilots and four student pilots were appointed. Schäfer says this meant that 85% of advertised vacancies remained vacant.

Mthethwa’s answer added the police operated 15 fixed wing aircraft and 38 helicopters and currently mustered 11 fixed wing pilots and 39 rotor wing pilots.

Police air support is one of the critical elements of the SAPS plan to ensure a well-policed Soccer World Cup, which begins in a little more than three weeks’ time, Business Day reports. “The DA has been contacted by a pilot who is qualified to fly both fixed-wing planes and helicopters, has in excess of 3000 hours flying experience and various other qualifications that are highly beneficial for any organisation. He was initially advised that he would be appointed, and then was later told that his appointment had been refused.
“The fact is that if a post is going to be left vacant because, as the minister stated in his reply, such an appointment would not “enhance representivity”, then that goes way beyond the kind of affirmative action that any South African could possibly want to see,” Schäfer said.

She said that simply leaving posts unfilled when there were quality candidates made no sense, and “no matter what one’s particular view on employment equity is, when no previously disadvantaged candidate is available for a post, and if there are other candidates who are able to do the job, then an appointment must be made if service delivery is not to be compromised”.

The answer added that in addition to “not enhancing representivity”, some applicants lacked qualifications, experience and/or failed psychometric assessments.

The SA Press Association added Schäfer said the DA fully supported the need for affirmative action so that those who were previously disadvantaged had an equal chance. “This, however, has nothing to do with affirmative action, as there was no previously disadvantaged candidate available for the post.
“This instead, has to do with a minister whose callous disregard for his own constitutional duties is actively hampering the ability of the SAPS to deliver a quality service to all South Africans. And it must be noted that when there are vacancies in the SAPS — it is actually not the person who is denied a position on merit who is the most severely affected — it is those ordinary South Africans, both black and white, who don’t get the service delivery they deserve,” Schäfer said.

She called on Mthethwa to review the decision. Attempts to get comment from Mthethwa’s office failed, Business Day said.