The Daily News reported on Thursday that a senior metro officer instructed his colleagues to provide such an escort for his family member.
Four metro police vehicles and an unmarked metro police bakkie escorted the hearse on the N2 to the crematorium.
Three of the vehicles are used daily for crime prevention duties and another was used by the public order policing.
Mandla Nsele, eThekwini Municipality spokesperson, said despite the human resource constraints being experienced at present, the metro police remained committed to assisting communities with safety and security issues.
“The municipality’s first and primary priority is to ensure the safety of all eThekwini residents,” he said.
To ensure there was no abuse of vehicles, Nsele said, all municipal vehicles including metro police vehicles were monitored 24 hours a day.
He said vehicle tracking data is kept for all vehicles. The vehicles used to escort the family were not part of the city’s festive season crime prevention duties.
Mary de Haas, KwaZulu-Natal Violence Monitor, said incidents like these justified calls from Durban’s citizens for accountability from the municipality.
“Those vehicles escorting the procession should have been used to monitor the protest instead.
“There must be a full enquiry and a full explanation from metro police management about how this was allowed to happen.
“Is there no supervision over what these vehicles are doing? What disciplinary steps are going to be taken?” she asked.
De Haas noted that the first line of call for people wanting protection is the SAPS, not metro police, who should only act in support of SAPS.
“In terms of the governing legislation the role of metro police is to (a) implement by-laws and regulations (b) deal with traffic violations (c) prevent crime. However regarding preventing crime, although they are peace officers they have to hand over anyone they arrest to the SAPS,” she said.
Responding to the Daily News article, Tracey Peters, a Durban resident commenting on Facebook, suggested that the family who had asked for the metro police’s assistance should be invoiced the cost of those officers’ wages for the day, the cost of fuel, as well as the wear and tear on the vehicles.
Recently, the metro police management said there was a shortage of manpower and they needed to hire additional staff.
In October, thousands of job applicants descended on Pinetown’s Lahee Park to fill in application forms.
Metro police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad, said 200 applicants were employed. A further 200 would be employed next month and the same number in August and February 2019.
In June, the Independent on Saturday reported on statistics in a document by the city’s human resources department. The vacancy status at the end of January last year stood at 1118.