DURBAN - THE security management unit at eThekwini Municipality has requested an additional R60 million for overtime pay to cover its ever-increasing overtime bill for security officials, including those protecting councillors
The VIP protection unit, which provides security for councillors, the land unit and escort and rapid response unit, are among the units requesting more pay. The request shocked some opposition councillors yesterday, who rejected it and questioned why there should be a need to pay the overtime to employees at City Hall. The request was approved after a majority ANC vote.
A report states that for the security management unit to achieve its IDP objectives, and to ensure the unit does not incur unauthorised expenditure, it required additional funding of
R59.4 million. It states that for the 2021 financial year, the overtime budget was R39 million and it had been forecast that R98 million would be needed for the financial year.
It said over the past few months, overtime pay had been increasing – the average spend was between R7 million and R8 million the past few months.
Overtime spending was a serious problem for the municipality, with the metro police unit considered one of the biggest culprits. During the hard lockdown last year, a Covid-19 expenditure report revealed that metro police had claimed millions in overtime pay, leading to opposition councillors questioning what the unit was doing when the city was under the hard lockdown.
The matter has also been raised by the city’s audit committee.
DA councillor Nicole Graham said the city was “blowing its budget on the metro police”, with little benefit to ordinary citizens. “The vast majority of this funding is for bodyguards; why has that amount gone up so much? We understand there are 62 councillors who have bodyguards. Why would the number (amount) jump so much?”
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi questioned how overtime was being accumulated.
“Are there councillors receiving 24-hour protection? How many of those councillors are there? I understand some of the expenditure, but I’d like to know how we are accumulating overtime in City Hall,” he said.
Deputy city manager; community and emergency services Dr Musa Gumede said there were councillors provided with protection based on threats they were facing. He said escorting units and land invasion units did work overtime, and at City Hall overtime was accumulated although it was not a significant amount. “Sometimes there are meetings in City Hall.”