Cops called in to quell traffic office fracas

2011-11-29 00:00

A SENIOR Msunduzi traffic officer had to summon the police tactical response unit yesterday to come to his rescue after his junior colleagues confronted him demanding the keys to his work vehicle.

Traffic department insiders said the officers wanted acting manager for public safety Bheki Xulu to hand over the keys to his municipal vehicle “as he does not need it because he is office bound”. This happened at the traffic’s headquarters in Washington Road.

The insiders said some of the traffic officers’ vehicles are in a state of disrepair, unroadworthy and unlicensed and the officers wanted the vehicle from Xulu to use it for patrolling as it is in a better condition than the other cars.

The Witness learnt that the confrontation escalted after Xulu allegedly punched a shop steward, Mbuso Ncobeni, in the stomach.

The insiders said Ncobeni went to speak to Xulu about the state of the department’s fleet. After the alleged blow other officers confronted Xulu demanding his keys.

Xulu locked himself in his office and soon the police arrived to mediate. Insiders said Xulu felt threatened by the confrontation and thought he was being held hostage.

Ncobeni declined to comment and Xulu directed The Witness’s question to municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan confirmed that a case of assault is being investigated.

Zuma said Xulu told him he did not hit Ncobeni or even try to hit him.

“They were only wrestling for the keys as Ncobeni tried to grab them from Xulu.

“As the matter is with the police investigations will determine what happened,” Zuma said.

The chairperson of the local SA Municipal Workers’ Union branch, Lucky Zimu, said that if the scuffle had indeed occurred the union condemns it.

Zuma confirmed that Xulu was confronted by officers demanding his keys.

“However, as this behaviour was confrontational, it violated the court order that is in place against any act of disruption, and for that reason police were called in.

“No acts of violence were reported and no case was opened …” said Zuma.

He appealed to employees to deal with issues through existing channels to uphold the integrity of their work as law enforcers.

“Yes, they do have challenges, like old fleet that they are using, but we appeal for restraint.”

Jeevan confirmed the dispute over keys and that the police were called in to mediate.

“When the police got there the dispute was stable and police advised [Xulu] to open a case, but no case has been opened,” said Jeevan.

The Witness reported earlier this year that many traffic vehicles are in disrepair, unlicensed and unroadworthy. Some of the vehicles don’t have functioning sirens or two-way radios.

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