Peace officers with criminal pasts? We’re not surprised, say residents

2010-07-21 00:00

SEVERAL residents contacted The Witness to say they were not surprised at reading yesterday’ front page story about ex-bodyguards — with criminal pasts — working as peace officers at Msunduzi Municipality.

Some of the callers said they have seen officers, who are allegedly former gang members and feared by the community, drive around residents’ areas in municipal vehicles.

Residents who spoke to The Witness on condition of anonymity questioned how, in a city where unemployment is so high, young people with no criminal records were overlooked while criminals were given jobs.

There were several callers who also said they wanted to assist investigations by contributing information as requested by city administrator Johann Mettler.

However, they said, they wanted a secure contact number or system that would ensure their identities are not revealed.

Many callers said they had long lost respect for the municipality when they saw that people associated with gangs, and who had brushes with the law, were employed to uphold law and order at the municipality.

Local government experts say that peace officers play a role in ensuring that municipal by-laws are obeyed.

Peace officers in the Town Planning Division are required to have an in-depth knowledge of town planning legislation.

They can also be employed to check that residents have necessary municipal licences such as dog or vendor licences.

A caller said he now understands why there are so many town planning violations in the city and so little enforcement.

“I can’t visualise former bodyguards having an interest in or an understanding of the minute details contained in town planning legislation, let alone the town planning scheme,” he said.

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