Durban - A management crisis continues to hamper operations at the Durban metro police, the latest revelations being that the unit is unable to conduct critical operations.
The Mercury has it on good authority that hundreds of towed vehicles have been gathering dust at the unit’s four pounds for the past two years.
According to sources, the city has not auctioned a single vehicle since 2013, despite a regulation that stipulates that an impounded vehicle should be auctioned by the city after a year if it is not claimed.
The vehicles include more than 100 that were gutted in an inferno at the city’s Queensburgh pound in June last year. The scrap metal has not been removed from the premises more than a year later.
A city investigation into the incident later found that the fire started as a grass and bush fire that spread along a path of “combustible vegetation”.
It was reported that the fire damage cost the city about R500 000. Frustrated city police officers are now asking questions, stating that conducting operations has become a nightmare as there is no space to keep the impounded vehicles.
Two officers directly affected this week painted a bleak state of affairs in the unit, saying frustrated staff were now “at their wits’ end”.
Responding to requests for comment, eThekwini head of communications Tozi Mthethwa said: “I have requested that the metro police unit management investigate and resolve the matter.”
The two officers said the city was releasing vehicles to owners who had claimed them and paid fines, “but otherwise cars are just piling up”.
“The cars that burnt in Queensburgh are taking up space for no reason,” one officer said. “I have no idea what’s the hold-up. The last time cars were auctioned was in 2013. This all emanates from metro police squabbles,” said one officer.
“According to legislation, unclaimed cars can only be in our pounds for only a year; after that, they are the property of the city. This means the city could then auction the vehicles,” the sources said
The municipality is understood to have four pounds - in Verulam, Queensburgh, Isiphingo and in Greyville. All four have reached full capacity.
The Isipingo pound has a storage capacity of 400 but has about 600 cars crammed into it.
In Verulam, 150 cars occupy premises that can accommodate 180 vehicles. That is the also the case at the Queensburgh pound.
The Greyville pound is understood to have about 350 vehicles, but its capacity could not be confirmed at the time of publication.