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Metro police in eThekwini need R60m more for overtime pay

File Picture: Metro police conducting a roadblock. Picture: Tumi Pakkies African News Agency (ANA)

File Picture: Metro police conducting a roadblock. Picture: Tumi Pakkies African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 27, 2022

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DURBAN - DEPUTY mayor of the eThekwini Municipality Philani Mavundla has taken city officials to task over the ballooning cost of overtime for the metro police, saying their poor planning is to blame for runaway overtime costs.

He was speaking during the executive committee meeting yesterday where it was revealed the unit needs an extra R60 million to cover overtime costs.

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The unit had an original overtime budget of R120m, it has blown that in seven months and needs an additional R60m to top up the budget.

Mavundla said that with better planning, the money being used to fund overtime could have been used to employ more metro officers.

The unit has repeatedly said it is very short staffed. The full staff complement of the unit is about 2 800, but only about 1 500 are fully trained metro police officers.

Overtime has been a source of complaints from councillors in the city who recently said it should be investigated whether the overtime was being abused.

The unit is among those that have a high volume of claims – during Covid lockdown the members claimed millions in overtime, leading opposition parties to ask what the unit was guarding as the city and the country were under a national lockdown.

In the mid-year budget and performance assessment report for December 31, 2021 before council recently, a table on anticipated over-expenditure showed that the municipality had already spent R66.5m on overtime for metro police.

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A report, presented to exco sought authority to reallocate funds from savings in salaries to fund overtime.

“The reallocation is in line with the council-approved budget virement policy and is aimed at funding forecasted overtime of R60m for the month of February to June.

“The metro police unit has exhausted the 2021-2022 approved budget of R120m, while the unit continues to receive unbudgeted requests from various council departments to provide services such as VIP protection, land invasion assistance, assistance during labour-related disputes, disruptions to contractors doing council projects, and the unit’s emergency response service continues to strain metro police resources.

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“The unit is operating on a deficit which if not rectified would result in unauthorised expenditure,” said the report. It said the unit was stretched to its limit.

But the request for money for overtime pay irked councillors across party lines who said the unit is failing to manage its overtime operations.

Mavundla said several traffic officers could have been hired using the overtime budget of R120m and the R60m that was being requested.

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DA councillor Nicole Graham said it was stunning that just 1 500 metro police officers were claiming R180m in overtime pay.

Graham said despite the issue of overtime being raised on numerous occasions, there seems to be no improvement in containing it.

She warned that it seemed the abuse of overtime was widespread in the unit.

EFF councillor Thabane Miya said while these large amounts were claimed for overtime, the claims were not commensurate with the performance of the unit on the ground.

He added that they had also received complaints that it seemed that only those working in eThekwini Central were allowed to claim overtime.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said the claim for more overtime pay was not acceptable.“The report said the metro has already exhausted their overtime budget and I want to question what it is they have done that has made them exhaust the budget,” said Nkosi.

ANC councillor Nkosenhle Madlala said the issue of overtime was a serious concern. He called for the general assessment of the quality of policing in the area, not just limited to metro police.He said the city needed to address the issue of general policing, and said Inanda and uMlazi had high murder rates.

“The municipality is besieged by business forums that stop construction projects and these forums are now (moving) to other cities and provinces, the city is also faced with a high rate of land invasions,” he said.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said there was a need to control the overtime by making sure that members claimed for the time they had worked, saying some of the duties performed by the unit, such as escorting, could be cut to only when they were necessary.

Related Topics:

eThekwini municipality

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