DURBAN - THE eThekwini metro police unit has revealed it needs an extra R60 million for overtime pay over five months, to provide an efficient service.
A report on the overtime request was tabled before members of the executive committee during a meeting yesterday. The funding request was approved without the opposition parties’ support.
The opposition parties questioned the amount requested and demanded that the unit give a breakdown of its functions to justify the extra funding.
The report read: “Authority is being sought for metro police additional overtime funding of R60m in order to provide for the forecasted overspend on overtime which (is) still to be incurred between the months of February and June 2021.”
It called for the deputy city managers (DCMs) of community and emergency services and finance to be granted approval to allocate additional overtime funding of R60m to enable the metro police to continue providing the required level of service for the municipality.
It said the amount was needed for metro police overtime pay over five months, from February 2021 to June 2021, to ensure there was no unauthorised expenditure.
The metro police unit came under fire in previous years for their overtime budget. In a report on Covid-19 expenditure for last year, it was revealed that the unit had spent close to R100m on overtime. This made opposition party councillors question what the unit had done during that lockdown period.
Dr Musa Gumede, DCM of community and emergency services, said the city had done a lot to control spending on overtime in the metro police.
He said the funds required now were almost half of what would have been required last year without the changes the city had made to the unit.
He said the unit had re-engineered officers’ shifts, to have them work for four days and then have four days off, to bring down the cost of overtime pay.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said when the metro police recruitment policy was put in place, part of the reasoning was for the city to avoid spending on overtime. He said the party wanted to see a visible metro police presence in the city as residents had complained about several issues, including on the beachfront.
“We want to be able to say, ‘these people are visible’, so we can justify this money to our caucus and community.”
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said when they were told about the overtime spend last year, they were told that it was due to Covid-19, and he questioned the new request.
Mthethwa said: “What we get is not reflective of what we put in; they are not quick to respond to issues of lawlessness. There were instances where shops were being burnt (in the city) and they did not respond quickly,” he said.
Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the spending on overtime was inevitable, and that the unit did not have its full complement of staff. He said when the metro police unit was formed, it was supposed to have 5 000 members, but did not have close to that number.
“We still need to recruit more; they are on the ground but they cannot be everywhere. In some instances they are the first ones to arrive at scenes. Sometimes they handle matters that are supposed to be handled by the SAPS.”