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At least 20 Durban city policemen own 50 taxis and are using municipal resources to run their lucrative businesses – and they are taking advantage of inside information to avoid being bust by their colleagues for breaking the law.
The Sunday Tribune this week established that the biggest culprit was Bongumusa Goodwill Dube, a 42-year-old metro police captain with a fleet of 10 taxis and unpaid traffic fines of R150 000.
Taxi owners, who rake in thousands of rand in tax-free income every month, are making a mockery of authorities. Some have close links to key ANC officials in council and the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu).
The Manase report which delves into corruption in the city council, allegedly names at least 20 officers who own taxis, a clear conflict of interest and a flagrant violation of Durban Metro policy.
The Sunday Tribune has evidence implicating nine.
Meanwhile taxi operators and city police officers have threatened to make Durban ungovernable and are jointly campaigning for the removal of metro police boss Eugene Nzama.
Investigations reveal that certain taxi associations which fall under the KZN Taxi Alliance have been “protected” because some of their members are metro officers.
A source in the city police said the cops who owned taxis and who also have to enforce traffic laws have wreaked havoc in the force.
“It’s a scary environment when, as police officers, we sit in the same meetings and plan operations only for the information to be leaked. Taxis end up avoiding certain routes because of inside information. A couple of years ago we planned a blitz to nab taxis on a certain route, but for four hours no taxi used it,” he said.
The nine officers are:
1 & 2: Dube of Inanda and Amos Sikhumbuzo “Khumbu” Mseleku, 43, of Phoenix. They have two dormant companies, Msolwa Transport and Umthombo Transport respectively registered at the same address. Mseleku transferred ownership of his taxi to his wife Nomusa at the start of the Manase probe. His other company Igugulama-Afrika is still trading. The University of South Africa is listed among Mseleku’s employers.
3: Night duty cop Claude Erwin Boucher, 36, of Wentworth who runs Colette’s Trading Enterprise also trades by the name of Naziem Boomgaard.
The Sunday Tribune can confirm another Naziem Boomgaard is a senior SAPS member.
4: Nomangisi Medrina Khomola-ka-James, 45, of Montclair owns Nomangisi Cleaning and Catering Services and MaMchunu Trading Enterprise. She is a former SAPS member.
5: Thulani Donatus Ndlovu, 37, of Lamontville has a deregistered company Ses’khona Tours and Enterprise and an active company Nkomedlingubo Transport and Trading.
6: Ottoman Phila Hlambisa, 39, known as “Skhova”, moonlights for the SANDF and Gray Security and owns Felindawo Trading. Hlambisa said he worked for Gray Security in 1995 and that he was only a volunteer with the SANDF and while he admitted he had a taxi, claimed he derives no income from it.
“I bought it for someone whose name was not good at the credit bureau. You can check my bank statement. No money comes in and by September I would have settled that vehicle and part ways with that person.
“I’m a police officer and I know I cannot own a taxi,” he said.
7 & 8: Sibusiso Abednego Gumede, 40, of Umlazi and Phumzile Edward Nogcantsi, 50, have taxis registered under Chatsworth Minibus Association. Gumede runs Swali Trading, while Nogcantsi is also a full-time Samwu unionist. Investigations also indicated he taught at Indwedwe Primary School.
He admitted he was a union official but said his wife worked at the school. He said he had submitted all of this to the city ombudsman. Nogcantsi said he owned a taxi.
“I’m a pirate taxi owner and you can’t charge me for that. There’s no proof that I own a taxi. I only registered it with Chatsworth Minibus Association in anticipation of me being granted a permit.” he said.
9: Ziphozonke Zakhe Khumalo, 41, of Umlazi is another taxi owner.
Manase investigators had secured evidence against at least 14 officers running their own taxi businesses, and later received information from a whistleblower of at least 20 officers who owned taxis. The Manase report also found that:
l Metro police officers who owned taxis intimidated junior officers who wanted to fine their taxis.
l Some of the officers conducted their taxi businesses using city resources such as fuel and telephones.
l Ten city police officers were among the list of the top 100 fines offenders.
Those accused of running their own taxi businesses are said to be among those who were being investigated by Nzama shortly before the Manase investigation. They face charges over their businesses and the SA Revenue Service is expected to get involved.
This week, Sithole and mayor James Nxumalo an-nounced a new organisational structure that dissolved the position of deputy city manager of safety and security, previously held by Bheki Mkhize.
Sithole said all functions of this position will now be transferred into the health and social cluster, headed by councillor Zandile Gumede, a regional ANC treasurer.
Nzama will now report directly to Sithole.
A source within eThekwini said there was speculation that Nzama might be deployed to another unit because he was preparing to take action against those metro police officers.
Sithole yesterday denied this. He confirmed the investigations and said in some cases disciplinary action was under way to deal with city police officers who own taxis.
The council has not formulated charges against Nzama despite a plethora of allegations levelled against him by the unions, staff and the taxi industry.
Samwu and “taxi bosses” have given the city until next week to get rid of Nzama.