The South African Police Union (Sapu) has urged acting crime-intelligence chief Maj-Gen Pat Mokushane to withdraw the directive moving crime intelligence officers to police stations.

The contested decision, which was communicated to police officers at a meeting in Pretoria last Wednesday, is regarded widely as constituting a severe blow to the country’s crime-fighting strategy.

Crime intelligence has had no permanent divisional leader since Lt-Gen Richard Mdluli was suspended several years ago. Mdluli is facing in the High Court in Johannesburg murder charges after the death of love rival, Oupa Ramogibe.

It is feared that the directive could further weaken the division, which is seen as a critical element in the war on crime. Sapu general secretary Oscar Skommere said the union had received confirmation of a meeting with South African Police Service (SAPS) management. Skommere said the union’s lawyers had sent a "letter of demand" to Mokushane on Monday afternoon.

He said Sapu would file for an urgent interdict at the Labour Court if the directive was not withdrawn within 48 hours. Skommere also said there was no adequate consultation between SAPS management, the officers concerned and their unions before the decision to move them and to restructure the unit was taken.

The original letter was sent out to section and component heads on Thursday.

In the letter, they were informed that all personnel at crime-intelligence headquarters in Pretoria had until Monday afternoon to indicate which provinces they wanted to be moved to.

In the original letter sent out by Mokushane, who was appointed to the position on June 10, the intelligence chief said management had concluded that the SAPS was struggling to fulfil its constitutional mandate because of a lack of staff at the cluster level, where crime incidents were reported.

The letter said management had found that most of the officers were stationed at SAPS head office, "where no incidents of crime are reported". To tackle this, a decision was taken to capacitate clusters by moving personnel and resources there from head office.

When contacted for comment, police spokesman Brig Vishnu Naidoo said that the SAPS would not discuss the issue in public as it was an internal matter.

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