Cops on trail of whistle-blowers while broken-down vehicles pile up at Oribi

2010-05-11 00:00

WHILE working conditions at Pietermaritzburg’s Oribi police garage, where broken-down police vehicles are piling up without being repaired, continue to deteriorate, police bosses have downplayed the situation.

Workers said smashed police vehicles continue to be brought in to join hundreds of others that are waiting to be repaired.

“Things are still the same, and broken-down police vehicles are still piling up,” said another source.

The Witness reported on April 26 about the appalling conditions at the garage, where hundreds of broken-down vehicles are kept waiting to be repaired.

Following the publication of the story, a number of police officers phoned in with further complaints.

The officers said there is a shocking shortage of vehicles at the various police stations. The situation at Oribi is not unique, this is a countrywide challenge, they alleged.

“We send vehicles to police garages for minor problems such as changing brake pads, but they are kept there for up to two months while police stations are struggling to serve their communities without vehicles,” said a police officer stationed at Alexandra Police Station.

Another officer said the problem lies with fleet managers.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker recently issued a statement to The Witness, which downplayed the situation. He denied that there are a large number of vehicles piling up waiting to be repaired at the workshop. He said jobs have been advertised to deal with the shortage of staff.

While there seems to be no move to improve the situation at Oribi garage, workers there alleged that they have been subjected to investigations following the story.

The investigation by senior South African Police Force officials is alleged to have started on April 26, the day the story was printed.

“We were visited by a police officer, who was in civilian clothes, and two men from human resources in the province. They called us one by one into an office and asked us if we had anything to do with journalists’ visiting the workshop,” said the source.

The workers are afraid as they have heard that some of them are suspected of talking to the media.

“We were all interrogated as from that Monday. We were later told that there are three people under suspicion, and that left us scared of losing our jobs because we don’t know who is suspected,” the source said.

After police spokesperson Brigadier Phindile Radebe had been approached about the matter prior to the story being published she later called The Witness to request the names of those who had been interviewed by the newspaper. Her request was declined.

When asked yesterday if she knew anything about workers being interrogated about the newspaper’s investigation, Radebe said she was not aware of the matter.


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