More than 30% of KZN police without licences

2013-01-18 00:00

MORE than 30% of KZN police officers, including high ranking personnel, do not have a driver’s licence.

This is according to a report by Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willis Mchunu, dated December 12 last year, in response to parliamentary questions by the Democratic Alliance.

In the report, which might change once the system is updated, Mchunu indicated that there were 614 police sergeants, 888 lieutenants and captains, 256 majors and lieutenants-colonel, 103 colonels, 2 896 constables and 1 920 warrant officers who cannot drive on the province’s roads.

IFP shadow MEC for Community Safety and Liaison Blessed Gwala said the revelation was an embarrassment to government that resulted in a loss of state resources.

“It is possible that we have officers who drive illegally, crash state vehicles, arrest motorists who don’t have licences while they themselves don’t have these. This issue needs to be addressed,” said Gwala.

By definition, the role of police officers is to serve and protect the public. The DA said it was difficult to comprehend how this role could be fully achieved in KZN with a high number of police who can’t drive.

Party provincial spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison Sizwe Mchunu said the figures provided a context to the often repeated excuse that “there are no vehicles” when distressed people call various police stations for help.

“The number of constables and sergeants without licences is a major concern given that these are officers ‘on the ground’ who are involved in arrests and should be the first at crime scenes,” said Mchunu.

He said provincial Commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni should explain how many operational members were taken off the beat to drive their bosses or colleagues around.

When contacted for comment, Ngobeni referred The Witness to the provincial police media desk.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Vincent Mdunge said the police have sufficient official drivers. He said a licence waiver on entry level constables may be implemented based on the public outcry for new recruits to be absorbed in the police without driver’s licences.

“Not all officers who possess a driver’s licence may necessarily drive state owned cars. There’s a mechanism that still applies internally for a person to be granted the authority to drive official vehicles.

“We, however, refute the suggestion that some senior officers at the level of colonels do not possess valid driver’s licences since this is one of the fundamental requirements for appointment in the senior positions,” said Mdunge.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s spokesperson Zweli Mnisi concurred with Mdunge, saying that those who were employed without licences must have presented strong crime fighting skills, and that driving was at the time not part of their job description. “Each case must be looked at individually, and not on trends,” said Mnisi.

Treasurer for the provincial community policing forum (CPF) John Didiza said it was puzzling to have officers without licences.

“We are concerned about these findings. We will look into the matter,” said Didiza, who is also the chairperson of the Pietermaritzburg CPF.

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