Steve Middleton Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA)
Steve Middleton Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA)

eThekwini ordered to promote two more senior metro police officers to 'top cop' post after union questions Middleton’s appointment

By Siboniso Mngadi Time of article published Dec 6, 2020

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Durban - WHO is the head of Durban’s Metro Police?

This question is being asked following a bargaining council ruling that the appointment of Steve Middleton was unfair.

As a result, the eThekwini Municipality was ordered to promote two more higher-ranking metro police officers, Aubrey Mthethwa, a senior-superintendent and Nhlanhla Mthethwa, an assistant commissioner, who were more qualified than Middleton.

The award was made on Thursday by Charles Oakes, the commissioner of the KwaZulu-Natal Bargaining Council after a long dispute brought by the South African Municipal Workers’ Union and four candidates who had also applied for the position.

In the dispute, the aggrieved members alleged that the appointment processes were flouted and that Middleton did not meet the minimum requirements to be the city’s top cop.

Middleton was appointed in June 2018 as the head of Metro Police after he had been acting for almost a year in the same position.

The lucrative post comes with a salary package of about R1.4 million per annum, excluding the benefits.

They claimed Middleton’s appointment was not in line with the metro police employment equity policy and there was no motivation to support it as per the municipal policy.

The union further argued that Middleton had never been a registered traffic officer and lacked the basic skills required for that job. In addition, the South African Police Services Act, which allowed for the establishment of a metro police force, stipulated that the head of metro police should be appointed by a sitting of the full council – which had not happened.

In the arbitration award, Oakes said the failure by eThekwini to appoint either of the Mthethwas who were both interviewed for the job, was unfair.

He said it was abundantly clear that from all the evidence that they were

It is for this reason that it would not be in the interest of fairness to set aside his appointment both more suited to the position of head of police than Middleton.

“He is not a member of Metro Police as required in terms of Section 64C of the South African Police Services Act, which should have resulted in his exclusion from the recruitment process,” he said.

Oakes ordered the municipality to promote both applicants to the position of the head with the same remuneration and benefit applicable to the grade.

The ruling means the city would now pay three employees for one position at the cost of about R3.5m per annum, excluding the benefits.

Oakes said it would not be in the interest of fairness to set aside Middleton’s appointment, but rather to award the other applicants with a promotion.

“Middleton, like other candidates, was unaware that it was required of him to be a member of Metropolitan Police. It is for this reason alone that I believe that it would not be in the interest of fairness to set aside his appointment,” he said.

He also ordered the municipality to pay Aubrey and Nhlanhla all additional remuneration due to the operation of the promotion, minus such amounts as the employer in terms of the law obliged or entitled to deduct.

The municipality was also ordered to pay all applicants who applied for the position a six month compensation.

Msawakhe Mayisela, city spokesperson, said they were still studying the judgment and would communicate the way forward thereafter.

Sunday Tribune

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