A metro police report presented to the committee revealed that the vacancies had increased the amount paid to the existing staff on overtime.
In addition, more delays within the municipality’s human resources (HR) division would see the training of only 200 recruits in January next year.
Explaining the “predicament” to the committee, metro police chief Eugene Nzama said among other issues, a certain training course meant for recruits was now being disputed by unions.
“HR has to resolve this matter. Our college for metro police recruits can only accommodate 200 candidates, so if we want to take in 400 candidates, then that can only happen over a period of two years.
“We also have the union disputing the eligibility of the course that recruits have to undergo,” Nzama said.
The Daily News’s sister paper, The Mercury, reported on Wednesday that Nzama was at loggerheads with the municipality over who called the shots at the metro police.
Nzama has gone to court, complaining that he is being undermined and seeking a ruling against the guarding of councillors by his officers instead of serving the communities.
Asked if the guarding of councillors by his officers had contributed to the “strain” his department was feeling, Nzama said the matter was sub judice.
“I can’t say that my members or some of them cannot guard councillors. That is why I took the matter to court,” he said.
Sbonelo Mchunu, SA Municipal Workers’ Union regional chairperson, said: “The union says first take in those officers who have been serving on a temporary basis as scholar patrols for over 10 years. There’s just around 300 of them, and then you can recruit from the outside to make up the total number required.”
Of the 1118 vacancies, 896 are for inspectors, sergeants, constables and authorised officers, while the remainder is for managers, clerks and other unspecified designations.
Sharon Hoosen, the DA’s committee member, said metro police was one of the key departments which required the “prompt filling in” of vacant posts.
“The longer it takes the department to resolve the vacancy issue, the more it costs the ratepayers. In the last adjustment budget, overtime (in the metro police) was the highest of all departments, at R56million and today (yesterday) it was reported at R65.2m.
“Most of this overtime cost is due to metro police guarding a few councillors, which is not the mandate of this department,” Hoosen said.
She said the municipality’s Security Management Department was specifically designed to protect councillors who had undergone the threat analysis process.