A Durban city audit reveals irregularities in the purchase of metro police vehicles... and the abuse of overtime.
A Durban city audit reveals irregularities in the purchase of metro police vehicles... and the abuse of overtime.

Report: eThekwini metro cops deeply embedded in mire of corruption

By Nkululeko Nene Time of article published Feb 14, 2021

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Durban - Their job is to enforce law and order, instead, some top-ranking eThekwini metro police officers have been caught out for errant behaviour.

In a report that runs to more than 200 pages, compiled by the City's Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU), metro police officers have abused the city fleet, gone on booze-buying sprees, jaunts to Joburg without permission, and appointed friends into the metro service.

While the report was signed off in November by the head of the CIIU, Mbuso Ngcobo, it is understood that those implicated are expected to account for their actions in coming weeks.

The officials, whose names are known to the Sunday Tribune, cannot be divulged at this stage because their charges could not be confirmed.

The CIIU also received complaints from recruits alleging that the 2017/18/and 2019 recruitment process of the trainees was irregular and that various councillors and senior municipal officials intervened to ensure friends and family’s children were appointed.

The report outlined how a senior metro cop allegedly influenced the promotion of the mother of his children from a captain to a director of the unit.

But when the CIIU enquired from the senior manager about the recruitment pack for her, they were advised there was no such file.

The same policeman whose perks include a car allowance, apparently continuously abused the metro police vehicle to pick up his sons from school.

During an investigation, a tracking company submitted records of the car used by the policeman and his wife doing the school run.

Photographic evidence was also supplied by a whistleblower of the car parked outside the school.

Further, the official’s bodyguard claimed “ridiculous” overtime hours. On one occasion, the bodyguard was sent to buy alcohol from a liquor shop in Newlands East.

He allegedly released vehicles from the impound section without any payment made to the municipality. He also defrauded the council of about R60 000 which he claimed as “locomotion allowance” when he drove a council-hired vehicle.

The report also revealed that 14 other high ranking policemen contravened the Fleet Management policy by using metro police vehicles as their private cars. Others were accused of sexual harassment against officials.

It was claimed that no disciplinary action was effected on a policeman who discharged his service firearm in public while he was under the influence.

Another police officer, who was under the influence, allegedly crashed the official vehicle into multiple metro police cars causing substantial damage but was protected by his boss.

There was also the instance of a policeman who often booked a specific council car, to claim for overtime while he spent time at a shebeen in Marbleray Drive in Newlands East. When he was questioned during a consultation with the investigation team, he said the reason for visiting the bar was to monitor drag racing happening outside the pub. He also said the owner of the bar was a friend who worked for SAPS Crime Intelligence Unit.

Another policeman, without authorisation, drove a council vehicle to Mpumalanga and returned the same day.

Other offences committed by the rogue policemen included booking vehicles for private uses but submitting fraudulent claims for overtime when they had not worked.

Between the period of July 2017 to June 2019, a total amount of more than R5 million was paid in overtime. During a six month period in 2019 scholar patrol officers were paid more than R8 million in overtime by the Metro police unit.

A superintendent doubled his salary in overtime payments. From January to December 2018 he was paid more than R500 000 in overtime. Between July 2017 to June 2019 he had accumulated about R1 210 181, 63.

According to the report, the Metro police unit does not have a policy for the use of the vehicles – no log sheets records could be found.

The report concluded that the Employee Relations Unit must indicate to the Metro Police Unit the progress about the above matters.

Detailed questions sent to eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Masawakhe Mayisela, were not responded to, save to say that it was an internal matter which could not be discussed.

South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) official Dumisani Luthuli said they complained about the irregular appointments in October 2019 which resulted in an investigation. Luthuli said he expected the city manager to act accordingly against the offenders.

The DA caucus leader, Nicole Graham, said she had not seen the report but she was aware that there was mismanagement of the unit. She said overtime claims paid to the officials were ridiculously high and unreasonable.

“It is a joke that officials have doubled and some tripled their salaries on overtime. It is a serious theft of taxpayers money. There are plenty of good and bad ones too in the unit. It is because the ANC faction is deeply embedded in the metro police,” she said.

Graham said she had asked for the report to be made available but her request was ignored.

The IFP caucus leader Mdu Nkosi said he was not aware of the report but the allegations of irregular appointments was a common problem in the police unit.

“Lots of deserving and qualifying police officers were overlooked for senior positions. The unit has been used as a battleground to fight ANC wars. eThekwini residents need the opposition parties to be their voices and ears because soon the resources will be depleted through corruption and there will be no service provided to the taxpayers,” he said.

Nkosi said a group of unhappy officers have shared their concerns with him. He said he planned to write to the office of the public protector.

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Sunday Tribune

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