Questions over traffic chief’s qualifications

2010-11-15 00:00

QUESTIONS continue to surface about the qualifications of Msunduzi traffic chief Kwenza Khumalo.

He occupies one of the most senior posts within the municipality as the acting strategic executive manager in charge of community services. This includes the key service delivery areas of traffic, fire, health and clinics, parks, the airport and the market.

A Witness investigation has uncovered the following discrepancies:

• Khumalo has a qualification equivalent to that of a junior traffic officer, having completed a 10-month constable course while with the Durban Metro Police from June 1998 to March 1999. This was converted to a qualification as a traffic officer by Durban Metro.

However, this allegedly does not fulfil the requirements to be a traffic chief as stipulated in the advert for the post that was placed by Msunduzi Municipality in the Echo newspaper in September 2007.

The advert called for an ITOIII qualification. The Institute of Traffic Officers (ITO) rules state that if municipal traffic officers wish to be considered for promotion, they must hold a three-year Final Diploma of the Institute of Traffic Officers of Southern Africa.

This qualification is offered by an accredited correspondence college. The course and the examination are under the protection of the institute.

• In February 2009, traffic staff went on strike. A placard read: “Khumalo must show us his diploma.”

Zwe Hulane, who was then deputy manager and is now suspended, said the matter was being dealt with internally and was highly sensitive. The Witness has since learnt that the verification procedure for Khumalo’s qualifications were allegedly not completed.

A request was made within the human resources department for authorisation to use the services of an independent verification body, but there was allegedly dragging of feet and the authorisation was not given.

• Another discrepancy that has surfaced is that Khumalo allegedly did not have a traffic officer infrastructure number at the time of his appointment.

 It is essential for a traffic officer to have such a number, obtained via the Provincial Traffic Training College, in order to operate.

The Witness has documentation to show that Khumalo received the infrastructure number in May 2009. This was nine months after he started his job as senior traffic superintendent in September 2008.

Traffic officers have one infrastructure number for the duration of their service.

From documentation it appears that Khumalo had a different infrastructure number while he was employed as traffic chief at Richmond. Both numbers are known to The Witness.

• Khumalo resigned under a cloud from Richmond Municipality having been the subject of a forensic investigation that was carried out by local auditing firm, Roshan Morar and Associates.

A special council meeting at the Richmond Municipality in January 2008 — seven months before Khumalo’s appointment at Msunduzi recommended that “disciplinary action is taken against Mr Khumalo for misrepresentation of his qualification in his application. Council to appoint an independent presiding officer”.

Khumalo allegedly resigned from the post before the disciplinary hearing took place.

• There are allegations that suspended former traffic chief Kenny Chetty and deputy manager, Zwe Hulane, were allegedly instrumental in getting Khumalo a job at Msunduzi.

Questions were raised as to why the municipality did not do a background check and why it did not take into account the forensic investigation at Richmond before appointing Khumalo?

The details of the investigation were published in the local media at the time. Attempts to get hold of Chetty and Hulane to answer these questions were unsuccessful.

Equally unsuccessful were attempts to get a response from the municipality on these allegations.

An e-mail was sent to administrator Johann Mettler and municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma about three weeks ago, on October 28.

Khumalo said he would call in at The Witnessoffices on Monday, November 1, to discuss the matter.

However, he indicated on that day that there was no need for him to come in as the municipality had prepared a comprehensive response to the queries.

With still no response, The Witness again e-mailed Zuma on Thursday, November 4. He called on Friday to say the response had gone to Mettler for his perusal and to contact him directly to send it. There was no response.

An e-mail was sent this weekend to say we are going to print. Zuma went into his office yesterday and e-mailed the municipality’s response, (see box) as per Mettler instructions.

The Witnessunderstands that the turnaround team are wary that people perceived as being close to them are being targeted in alleged smear campaigns.

However, the allegations against Khumalo continue to surface. They came up again when Khumalo did not see the need to put a temporary contingency plan in place to deal with the traffic gridlock caused by the upgrade of the Chota Motala interchange.

The plan was put in place after a site visit by members of the turnaround team. Questions were raised once more over Khumalo’s qualifications and experience.

The municipality was asked to clarify all the discrepancies and help put the matter to rest once and for all.

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