Watch the Sitholes every Thursday at 17h30 on e.tv
Johannesburg - The Road Traffic Management Corporation and its specialised national traffic police unit may be disbanded.
The Star has learnt that it was decided at a meeting of the shareholders’ committee on Thursday that the RTMC should be absorbed by the Department of Transport.
A formal announcement of the decision has not yet been made.
Transport Ministry spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said only the cabinet, in consultation with the transport minister, can make the decision to dismantle the RTMC and the unit.
The national traffic police unit was launched to much fanfare by former transport minister S’bu Ndebele, but has been dogged by scandals since its inception.
The decision follows the unit’s chief, David Tembe’s resignation last month, citing a lack of resources to discharge normal day-to-day duties effectively and chief executive Collins Letsoalo’s continuous interference.
The Star revealed that the national traffic intervention unit was effectively without cars of its own.
The RTMC hired a fleet of 40 Avis vehicles because it could not afford to buy its own cars for traffic officers to perform their duties. This was despite a R300 million bailout it received from the Treasury recently.
The unit’s fully equipped cars, supplied initially by Sanral, were removed last February, leaving the 200 traffic officers in the unit without transport of their own.
Two weeks after Sanral removed the unit’s cars, the blue lights on its rented vehicles were also removed.
Under previous RTMC chief executive Ranthoko Rakgoale, there were allegations of financial mismanagement. In 2010, it came to light in Parliament that an irregular property lease agreement of R658m over 10 years had been signed.
Western Cape Transport MEC Robin Carlisle is a member of the shareholders’ committee and was in the meeting on Thursday when the decision to dissolve the corporation was made.
Asked for comment, he said he did not know if a formal announcement had been made yet, “but important decisions were made by shareholders of the RTMC”.
Carlisle said he did not want to comment till an official announcement was made.
“I will say that my provincial colleagues acted with great responsibility in this matter,” he said.
Justice Project South Africa chairman Howard Dembovsky said he was delighted to hear about the possible closure of the RTMC, which he said was a “dysfunctional waste of taxpayers’ money”.
“Since its establishment in 1999, the RTMC has failed to achieve a single mandate that it was tasked with, and its existence has been dogged by corruption and maladministration,” he said
Dembovsky said one of the RTMC’s “most monumental failures” had been its ineptitude in rolling out the Aarto Act on a nationwide basis and allowing “entities like the Joburg metro police department to misapply the act under the so-called pilot (project), thus discrediting Aarto to the extent that its future now hangs in the balance”.
The Department of Transport’s spokesman, Tiyani Rikhotso, had not commented at the time of publication.