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After months of disputes, dissension and protests, matters at eThekwini metro police came to a head last week when the city placed the unit’s head, Eugene Nzama, on special leave following allegations of maladministration and instability.
The SA Municipal Worker’s Union (Samwu) members heaved a sigh of relief, saying it was hard to work in an organisation which was “rotten to the core”. But problems in the metro police are not unique to eThekwini.
The civil society organisation, Corruption Watch, released a report into corruption in the Joburg Metro Police, saying transformation started from the top and bribery seemed to be common in all metro police departments.
Spokeswoman Bongi Mlangeni said the answer was effective management and monitoring. In 1998 an amendment to the SA Police Service Act was promulgated which provided for the establishment of municipal police services. Subsequently these were formed in Durban, Joburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Cape Town. Since its inception eThekwini has been plagued by scandal after scandal. Here are some of the major problems highlighted over the past six months:
* Nzama is placed on special three months’ leave. Municipal manager S’bu Sithole said there were a number of allegations against him which they wanted to investigate.
* Three laptops and R2 700 in petty cash are stolen from the corporate HR (pay) offices in Archie Gumede Place despite round the clock security.
* Taxi drivers go on the rampage in the city centre and then embark on a four-day strike leaving commuters stranded and bringing the city to its knees.
* A superintendent is charged with assault after he rips the shirt of a female officer during a scuffle.
* Samwu asks the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, to investigate a senior member of metro police management.
* Two officers are arrested on what they say are “trumped up” charges of sexual assault. The offence allegedly occurred in August 2011.
The Manase report, which emanated from an investi-gation into irregularities in eThekwini municipality, found that:
* Thirty trainee constables had bought their driver’s licences after being instructed to do so by metro police college instructors, who had directed them to illegal driving schools.
* Fourteen officers were found to be taxi owners, in contravention of metro police policies and national legislation.
* The Mercury reveals that officers have been raking in the overtime and that in December some officers had doubled and almost trebled their salaries.
* The head of Specialised Units, Rajen Chin, is placed on special leave.
* Officers embark on a series of protests and threaten to strike over the Christmas and New Year period. They cite racism in the force, the flouting of policies, corruption and preferential treatment. - The Mercury