Anger and frustration at RTI

2016-05-11 13:00

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Pietermaritzburg - Senior traffic officials say that the KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic ­Inspectorate, responsible for policing the province’s major routes, is being overrun by bribery and corruption, which is systematically dismantling the ­organisation at its core.

Several senior officials within the RTI say that station commanders are being unfairly removed and disciplinary action is being taken against senior officials who report corruption.

However, no action is being taken against officers accused of bribery.

The officials, who would not be named as they are not authorised to speak to the press and fear victimisation, have expressed anger, frustration and disappointment at the state of the ­organisation.

“It has been humiliating having lower ranking officers think they have power over us,” said one.

“We work hard to do the right thing, yet we are treated like all of our work is for nothing. We are treated like we are nothing.”

Another official said they were “very angry and very frustrated”.

“There are officers who are bringing down RTI’s name and doing injustice, but no one listens.

“We are just trying to do our jobs and we get victimised for it. It is incredibly depressing.”

Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA) provincial manager Claude Naiker, representing a number of senior officials and station commanders in RTI, said the trouble started with the ­appointment of former Hibiscus Coast Municipality protection services ­department head Victor Chetty as the RTI head in late 2014.

Since his appointment, senior ­officials have accused him of bringing the organisation into disrepute.

A string of e-mail correspondence ­between the PSA, Chetty and Transport Department head Sibusiso Gumbi ­reveals a litany of complaints from the union to the department, addressing grievances from its members and ­attempting to arrange meetings, most of which went unanswered.

Naiker said there had been several ­incidents of victimisation of senior ­officials belonging to the PSA.

He said these officials had been ­sidelined while junior officials belonging to the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) were favoured.

Naiker said a station commander in Rossburgh had handed in evidence of a Popcru traffic officer granting a driver’s licence after the woman being tested was recorded on video knocking over a pole in the yard test. The woman should have failed the test.

“The evidence was handed over, but when the official tried to take disciplinary action against the traffic officer, she was served a letter of intention to remove her from the station,” said Naiker.

He alleged that in another incident, another station commander handed in a 200-page report containing evidence against two traffic officers who had ­accepted bribes at the roadside.

It is alleged that when the official tried to take disciplinary action against the officers, the investigation was delayed and they were re-appointed six months later.

Notice was then given that it was ­intended to remove the official from the station.

The Witness is in possession of three notices addressed to station ­commanders, stating that they are to be removed from their current stations.

All contain the line “the justification for such a decision is to stabilise the ­conflict situation currently being ­experienced at the Road Traffic ­Inspectorate and to ensure efficient ­service delivery in the public interest”.

Another e-mail handed to The Witness was sent by a provincial inspector and station commander to RTI regional commander Thabani Mthembu in April.

It questions why a fellow station ­commander was transferred to another station.

A week later, the author of the e-mail was handed a notice of transfer, stating that the decision was made to “stabilise the conflict situation” at his current ­station.

Transport Department spokesperson Nathi Sukazi responded to The Witness’s queries saying they “decried the ­gullibility of your newspaper to entertain a host of untested allegations on internal matters”.

“In terms of internal disciplinary and administrative processes, the ­department has established guidelines that ensure fairness and administrative justice,” said Sukazi.

“As such, we are not inclined to entertain untested allegations on internal disciplinary processes currently underway.

“Importantly, the department takes a very firm stance on fraud and ­corruption, which is borne out by the fact that there are current, ongoing ­investigations by relevant authorities against employees found on the wrong side of the law.”

Popcru spokesperson Richard ­Mamabolo said the union was unaware of any allegations of favouritism.

“It is unlikely that there is any form of favouritism against any member ­within RTI from any senior official on the basis of the union they belong to,” he said.

“It is within their constitutional right to belong to a union of their choice.

“Some use the same excuse to target individuals or create false impressions of bias in portraying their unions as ­victims.

“We stand for the fair treatment of all workers,” he said.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  rti

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