The Police Professional Standards Unit (PSU) is investigating regional and district police commanders accused of fleecing Special Police Constables (SPCs) who manned the general elections by underpaying them and pocketing the balance of their allowances.
In a police message dated March 5, 2021, the PSU commandant, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Sarah Kibwika writes that the commanders had earlier been warned not to misappropriate the constables’ payments, but some of them went ahead to cheat the low-ranking officers.
“It has come to the attention of PSU that some unit commanders (regional police commanders and district police commanders) have not paid full amounts to SPCs and have gone ahead to make them sign for less money. This vice is not only demeaning, embarrassing and shameful, but also tarnishes the image of the Force,” ACP Kibwika’s message reads in part.
The total amount of money which is said to have been deducted from SPCs is not yet known.
The implicated commanders are yet to be named since PSU is still collecting evidence.
Last year, police recruited at least 20,000 SPCs as polling constables for the general election in January and February.
Each SPC was entitled to Shs375,200 per month and Shs60,000 as allowance for providing security on voting day.
The finance managers at the police headquarters sent the SPCs payments to unit commanders in the districts, who were also directed to pay the beneficiaries.
Ms Kibwika yesterday confirmed the investigations, adding that SPCs had complained to PSU about the illegal deductions of their payments by their commanders.
“We are investigating the deductions. Some SPCs said their pay was deducted by Shs15,000 or Shs20,000. If you multiply that amount by the SPCs we have, it is a huge sum of money,” Ms Kibwika said.
She said some SPCs were forced to contribute money after they had been paid and to deliver the contributions to their commanders, which she said amounts to fraud.
She said upon conclusion of the investigations, appropriate action will be taken against the culpable commanders.
“Commanders implicated in this scam shall be dealt with and the repercussions will be regrettable,” Ms Kibwika said.
Last month, Special Police Constables from different parts of the country protested deductions of their payments. They said their commanders were giving them less money than they had agreed on at the time of recruitment.
Allegations of police commanders making illegal deductions from the payments of their subordinates isn’t new.
Last year, during the lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, officers, especially at the lower levels, accused their superiors of giving them half the amount they were supposed to be paid as enforcement allowances.
Parliament was forced to intervene, although without success. In several reports, the Auditor General discouraged the police from paying salaries or wages to its officers over the counter to prevent incidents of irregularities and corruption.