Traffic officers struck off

2012-11-12 00:00

FOUR officers from the Msunduzi Traffic Department have been de-registered after it was discovered they had criminal records.

However, the four continue to work as traffic officers.

The matter has been ongoing since last year when The Witness first reported that almost one in four Msunduzi Municipality traffic officers have criminal records.

The Witness then learnt that 14 of the 58 traffic officers in the city’s traffic department have criminal records.

The traffic officers are also peace officers, and the law states that no peace officer with a criminal record is allowed to perform an arrest.

Council insiders said most of the criminal records relate to fraud; others have convictions for theft, pointing a firearm and armed robbery. They said the offences were committed while the officers were off duty.

Section 34 of the Criminal Procedure Act requires a yearly renewal of peace and traffic officers’ certificates as part of a verification process. This involves re-taking fingerprints to screen employees for convictions or pending cases.

Officers believe that the deregistrations are part of a witch-hunt against their colleagues because the deregistered members did not get along with certain senior managers.

“We have more than 20 officers with criminal records, but only four have been deregistered.

“If this was a fair process the management should have focused on the entire municipality instead of targeting the traffic department,” said a traffic officer, who did not want to be named.

Transport Department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane confirmed that four officers had been deregistered, but would not been drawn into discussing any further details.

“We act on information provided to us by the municipality because we are accredited with institutions to train traffic officers,” he said.

The Democratic Alliance spokesperson for traffic, Radley Keys, said assessments needed to be done before potential officers went into training. “Law breakers should be prevented from entering the traffic department.

“No one should be appointed before they have been checked,” said Keys.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said there were internal processes that were being ironed out in order to effect the resolution that was taken by the strategic management committee for a structured removal of the officials involved.

“This will be communicated through the issuing of letters.

“It must be made abundantly clear that this is a directive from the SAPS as required by law that officers with criminal records be deregistered,” he said.

He said the onus was on the officers with such records to apply for their records to be expunged with the SAPS.

“In instances that the records are cleared, they may apply in writing to be reinstated,” he said.

Zuma said there were a few challenges that the municipality was confronted with regarding public safety, including vehicles and shortages of staff.

“In the same way that we are dealing with other challenges that confront us in terms of service delivery, this matter is also receiving attention,” he added.

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