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Cape Town -
A new law enforcement code for traffic officers, proposed by the Road Traffic Management Corporation, is “highly problematic and riddled with mandate creep”, says the City of Cape Town.
“It conflicts with national legislation and seeks, unconstitutionally, to interfere with the local authorities’ rights to manage and direct services within their legal and constitutional mandate,” said JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security.
Smith said the city would seek legal advice about opposing the code, as it had done with the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto).
The draft code was gazetted on January 10 for public comment. It deals with various aspects of traffic law enforcement to ensure better service delivery.
According to a report submitted by assistant chief Kevin Heckrath to the city’s safety and portfolio committee, the code would apply to all provincial and local government bodies irrespective of whether they performed road traffic services under a contract or not.
The city has made several comments on the draft code, which will be submitted to the Road Traffic Management Corporation for consideration.
One of concerns was that the code was last workshopped in 2007. “It requires diligent input and opposition and should be workshopped extensively with the Western Cape government,” Smith noted in his comments.
Other issues included the rank structure, which provide for additional levels that do not exist in the city’s traffic services, and the call for all office communication to be monitored. Although the code deals with human resource management, the city pointed out that local government uses a different bargaining council from the other spheres of government.
The city also argued that it did not have the financial resources to comply with some of the criteria outlined in the draft code. While the code sets out guidelines for the management of the specialised units’ equipment, the city argued that this would vary, depending on the local authority’s financial capacity.
“Why does the corporation want to determine the number of radios for staff members when the authority has that responsibility based on its financial standing?”
Other issues highlighted in the city’s comments included uniform requirements and the restrictions on when these uniforms may be worn.
The city also wanted to know what licensing and registration was not covered by the enforcement code.
The deadline for comments was February 10.
Safety and security portfolio committee chairwoman Carin Brynard wanted to know whether she could draft a letter of objection, in the mayor’s name, to the Road Traffic Management Corporation. “I find it strange that there was such a small window period for comment.”
But Smith said it was too late for this, and the city would have to take legal advice on what steps it could take.
He said the code was yet another example of “mandate creep” as the “onslaught” from the national government on the independence of the metro police, had started up again in earnest.