Durban's drunk driving fiasco

Published Dec 31, 2017


Durban - Durban's fight against drunk driving could be dealt a major blow after it emerged this week that metro police could have outsourced a crucial function to an unregistered, allegedly unqualified nurse.

The unit could now find itself facing civil suits from hundreds of motorists who were arrested and fined for drunken driving after the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court threw out a case when it learnt that a part-time nurse, Irfaan Bux, hired by the city police for roadblocks, was not registered with the South African Nursing Council.

Now, the National Prosecuting Authority has launched an investigation to determine the scale of the problem, while the metro police have removed the man from his role of drawing blood from drivers at roadblocks and claim that he submitted fraudulent documents to get the job.

It all came to a head when Durban motorist Poobendren Pillay, 44, was arrested at a roadblock on Higginson Highway, Chatsworth, in April this year.

Driving under the influence of alcohol charges were dropped when he challenged Bux’s credentials in the matter that was later struck off the court roll.

Bux has provided his services to the metro police as a part-time nurse for the past 10 years while he worked as an ambulance assistant for a paramedical services company. His part-time job with the city required him to be registered with the nursing council by law. He was not.

“I was stunned when the results came out saying I was under the influence of alcohol,” recalled Pillay. “I was arrested and released after paying a fine and had to appear in court several times.

“He (Bux) signed an affidavit and lied about me. How can his evidence be trusted when he is not even qualified? It’s against the law. Having a criminal record is not nice because you can lose your job.”

The NPA was looking at other drunk driving cases involving Bux.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Moipone Noko, said: “We are liaising with the metro police to determine the extent of the issue and where it stems from, as they would have been party to who employed the individual. Until then we are not in a position to comment,” said Noko.

The metro police said Bux had been removed from his role and said none of its other eight nurses who were used for drunk driving operations were affected.

Rajen Chin, the head of the metro police’s specialised unit, said he became aware of the matter only recently and subsequently dispensed with Bux’s services.

“I don’t know that guy I only became aware that he was not registered with South African Nursing Council after I was called by the prosecutors,” he said.

“I then took action and stopped his payment. I have checked all other nurses on our database. They are qualified. He was the only one who presented us with false information,” said Chin.

Metro police spokesperson Parbhoo Sewpersadh said criminal charges would be laid against Bux.

“I can confirm the matter has been brought to our attention. It’s currently being investigated fully by the new leadership within the Durban Metropolitan Police Service. Discussions are also being held with the Director of Public Prosecutions (NPA) offices.”

A source within the metro police blamed the unit’s former management. “This is very unfair to drivers who have been arrested and have criminal cases against them because of evidence provided by this guy.

“Previous management and Chin as the head of the specialised unit were responsible for verifying the credentials of all nurses. They are quick to stage all these roadblocks and arrest people for failing to adhere to the rules when they themselves do not respect the law,” said a source.

Pillay said the drunk driving charges levelled against him had affected him emotionally and had tainted his reputation.

His attorney, Leo Govender, said their investigation and evidence presented in court proved that Bux was qualified as an ambulance assistant and not as a nurse.

“We did our own investigation and presented it in court. The South African Nursing Council also confirmed in court that he was not registered with them.

“This guy was basically a fraud and the metro police failed to do a proper vetting of him.

“Imagine how many other drivers were convicted and fined because of the results from blood samples taken by him,” he said.

Speaking to the Sunday Tribune this week, Bux claimed he was qualified to draw blood as a phlebotomist and that he had decided to call it quits at the metro police.

He said he was registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

“I am a phlebotomist and therefore qualified to draw blood. I have been providing services for metro police for 10 years, assisting them by drawing bloods on suspected drunk drivers.

“I do not work for them any more. I stopped this month because my health is deteriorating and I cannot work any more.

“I do not have a relationship with anyone from management. It’s not true that I am not qualified to draw bloods. I studied at UCT,” said Bux.

Sunday Tribune

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