Forensic report found that the hiring of 590 Durban metro cops was “tainted with irregularities”
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DURBAN - FIVE HUNDRED-and-ninety eThekwini metro police officers were hired irregularly according to a damning forensic report compiled by Nexus forensic investigators and presented to the eThekwini Municipality in November last year.
The investigators found that the recruitment processes for 2017/2018, as well as for 2018/2019, were “tainted with irregularities” and recommended disciplinary steps against the officials responsible for recruitment and training.
The report, seen by the Daily News, found there was favouritism in both recruitment periods, where there were people appointed despite some of them not undergoing fitness tests and interviews. Some were also apparently appointed despite not being recommended.
The report first picked up discrepancies where ID numbers were invalid and others duplicated. The report also found that more than 30 applicants were given special preference and were driven in a metro police bus to undergo a fitness test in Pinetown’s Lahee Park, and most of them were subsequently appointed.
It further revealed that a certain group of applicants was taken to undergo fitness tests on a Sunday, which was not scheduled, and they were subsequently appointed. In that group, the report found that two of the applicants were the sons of police officers and one of the fathers was present during this unscheduled training. It recommended disciplinary action against the officer for this behaviour.
One of the applicants in this group was a 45-year-old scholar patrol worker who was not qualified to be hired as a police officer. The policy stipulated that only people under 35 could be employed as police officers in the city.
The report found that senior officers responsible for the recruitment process had failed to comply with regulations in terms of the Municipal Systems Act, which stipulate that a staff member must at all times loyally execute the lawful policies of the municipal council, perform the functions of the office in good faith, diligently, honestly and in a transparent manner, act in the best interest of the municipality and in such a way that the credibility and integrity of the municipality is not compromised.
The act also requires the staff to act impartially and treat all people, including other staff members, equally without favour or prejudice.
“Based on our conclusions we recommend that, due to preferential treatment afforded to (them), the 30 applicants who did their fitness test on December 24, 2018 and who were subsequently appointed, be subjected to another fitness test with the relevant and authorised officials from the Training Academy present.
“The fitness test was irregular in that members interfered in the process, thus compromising the process. This further compounds our original conclusions and recommendations that the appointment of the applicants for 2018/2019 is irregular and constitutes a fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” read the report.
It further directed the municipality to consider instituting disciplinary action against the nine officers who managed the fitness test for the 30 applicants who were hired, for contravening the recruitment policy.
Nexus also investigated allegations that officers abused municipal vehicles for their personal use. It confirmed the allegations and recommended disciplinary steps against the officers involved. Some were found to have used vehicles to transport children to school.
The report was also scathing towards officers who claimed overtime while off duty. Between July 1, 2017 and June 2019 the report found that the municipality paid R576 521 051,22 for overtime.
One senior officer was found to have almost doubled his annual salary through irregular overtime.
The report recommended that action be taken against the officers in line with the Municipal Finance Management Act and the code of conduct in terms of the Municipal Systems Act.
While the report was completed in November last year, it was unclear what action was taken against those found to be in the wrong.
eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said there had been a disciplinary hearing and another hearing was scheduled for November 5 and 6.
“The city subscribes to clean governance hence it is aggressively dealing with these issues. We therefore request to be given a space to finalise these internal matters and hereby make an undertaking to communicate with all our stakeholders including the media once we have reached a final stage,” Mayisela said.