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Durban - Some top forensic experts in KwaZulu-Natal say police management has failed to provide them with the basic tools for their job.
Members of the Durban SAPS Collision Unit, who’ve responded to some of the most high-profile accident scenes and are responsible for gathering crucial evidence, say they are forced to work with:
* Old camera equipment.
* A severely depleted vehicle fleet, which includes cars that are not roadworthy, with high mileage and oil leaks.
* No reflective jackets.
* No fire extinguishers.
* No accident warning signs.
* No rescue gloves.
* And no spray paint and yellow marking crayons.
The unit covers the greater Durban area from Umkomaas to KwaDukuza and central Durban to Cato Ridge, but sometimes attends to incidents as far afield as Pongola.
Some of its members attended to the horror crash scene allegedly involving disbarred Durban lawyer Koobeshan Naicker in 2011, in which three people, including an eight-year-old boy, were killed, as well as the Ndwedwe bus accident which claimed the lives of seven school children last year.
The Sunday Tribune has seen a grievance form dated November 12, 2012, and signed by eight of the unit’s 12 members, in which they decry their working conditions under Captain Raj Rooplal. It is alleged that, despite the unit having a budget of R96 000, there is never money for equipment.
“We are all looking to transfer because we can’t take working in such conditions. You can see management at provincial level isn’t interested, so we’re being forced to leave.
“We also can’t just down tools because the public will suffer and that is not fair.”
Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker dismissed the complaints, saying the equipment in question was in stock.
“Members are aware they need only request the items they need.
“The unit has a budget for the purchase of equipment and any equipment that may be required should have been bought from the allocated budget.”
Asked why the unit’s staff had shrunk from 32 a few years ago to just 12, Naicker said: “They have sufficient manpower to deal with their duties and are not expected to man telephones in the control room.”
Despite evidence of the grievance against Rooplal – corroborated by a Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union official – Naicker said police management was “not aware of any grievance against him”.
Naicker said when commanders disciplined members and demanded productivity, “unfounded” allegations often surfaced.