- Say they don’t and cannot make phone calls but are made to pay phone bills
- Allege denial of day-offs unless they pay P150
- Station Commander dismisses the allegations and says
- payment of phone bills was agree
Allegations of ill-treatment and maladministration have surfaced at Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone where junior officers allege they are compelled to buy their days-off and to pay for official phone calls.
According to the aggrieved officers, P360 was deducted from their salaries for phone bills in November and December last year without consulting them beforehand. Their supervisors allegedly deflected their complaints to the Station Commander, Superintendent Obusitswe Lokae, when they enquired. “The answer we got was that the directive is from the Station Commander,” said one junior officer.
However, Superintendent Lokae says payment of phone bills is meant to meet the government half-way and was administratively agreed. The junior officers say that is not the case. “What is more disheartening is that unlike most senior police officers, we use these phones only for calling customers,” said another junior officer. “There is no way we could make personal calls because we use the phones in the presence of our supervisors.”
The junior officers also allege that P150 is demanded of them when they apply for days-off. “Officers who have been on duty were normally given days-off when they applied for them,” said the officer. “But since the beginning of this year, our applications are routinely rejected if they do not go with payment of P150 whose purpose has not been explained to us. Mind you, some of us were on duty over Christmas holidays and we need our day-offs to be with our families.”
“We hear from the grapevine that this money also goes to phone bills. Our contention is that such money should be demanded from senior officers because they have phone codes to make calls. Even when they are off duty, they come to the office to make personal calls.”
Superintendent Lokae has dismissed these allegations as an attempt by the junior officers to politicize an administrative issue. According to the Station Commander, payment of phone bills was agreed as a means to meet the government half-way. “Since our phone bills are always high, we agreed administratively to meet the government half-way because we also make personal calls,” he said in an interview.
However, he shilly-shallied when asked about deductions of P150 for days-off, saying it may be true. “This money is not a condition for day-offs but might be arrears from last year’s phone bills,” he said. “If you have an outstanding balance, you will be reminded to pay it.”
Reached for comment, the Secretary General of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), Kaboyaone Sedimo, said forcing the employees to part with money is wrong, especially where there is no transparent system of what happens to the money. “It is totally improper to assume that every police officer uses the phone for personal purposes,” Sedimo said. “There should at least be a method for billing those who use the phone for personal purposes.”