Steve Middleton
Steve Middleton

Durban metro police head to challenge ‘ludicrous’ ruling on his appointment

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Dec 7, 2020

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Durban - Head of eThekwini’s metro police Steve Middleton has vowed to challenge a KwaZulu-Natal bargaining council ruling which found two metro police officers should be promoted to the same position he is currently holding.

Middleton said yesterday he had approached a labour law firm to challenge the decision.

The Mercury’s sister newspaper, Sunday Tribune, reported on the ruling by Charles Oakes, commissioner of the KZN bargaining council who was dealing with a dispute regarding the position of Metro Police head.

Two metro officers, Senior Superintendent Aubrey Mthethwa and Nhlanhla Mthethwa, an assistant commissioner, along with the South African Municipal Workers’ Union, filed a dispute after they lost out to Middleton for the position of metro police head.

Middleton had been acting as the head of the unit for a year when he was officially appointed in 2018.

The candidates and the union alleged Middleton should not have been considered for the position because he was not a metro police officer by training.

According to the Tribune, Oakes agreed Middleton should not have been considered for the post as he was not a member of the metro police.

He found that Mthethwa and Mthethwa had been more suitable candidates. However, he said it would be unfair to demote Middleton and instead ruled both Mthethwas be promoted to the same rank as Middleton, with an annual salary package of R1.4 million.

The decision effectively means metro police now has three heads of department instead of one.

Middleton said the decision was ludicrous.

“I have already approached a senior labour firm regarding this award. I won't say much else other than that I am of the opinion the award is ludicrous.

“I am most definitely a member of the metro police. The law allows for the exemptions through the national commissioner (this happened in 2006). This was shared in the arbitration, yet ignored,” he said.

Another source with knowledge of the dispute said the decision did not make sense.

“If the commissioner wanted to right the ’wrong’ of the appointment, he could have appointed one individual to the position. Putting three people in the same position does not make any sense.

“There were five people who filed disputes. Three of them disputed why they had not been shortlisted for the position and two disputed why they had not been appointed to the position.

“The main thing they wanted was to have the process overturned. Three of them – those who were not shortlisted – wanted to be compensated if the process was not overturned.

“Middleton made representations at the hearing and all his submissions were ignored. It is not true that he is not a member of the metro police as he was regularised and attended courses back in 2006,” said the source.

The source said the decision by the arbitrator had no impact on the functioning of this unit.

Acting city manager Sipho Cele said they were treating the issue with urgency and would be meeting with a legal adviser. “We will await advice from the senior counsel and we will take the matter forward from there.”

Steve Middleton

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