Cops ‘paid for nothing’

2019-10-09 06:01

THE failure to sort out the City’s licence to use speed cameras and get its firearms back from the SAPS National Intervention Unit has reduced Msunduzi’s traffic department to a toothless dog that’s barely making its bite felt.

This was revealed at a recent executive committee meeting where acting City manager Nelisiwe Ngcobo asked for council’s intervention to deal with the challenges facing the department so that the unit would be able to enforce all the traffic by-laws.

Councillors were outraged by the contents of the May report, which indicated that there were no incidents recorded for reckless and negligent driving, speeding or unlicensed vehicles or drivers for the month. The traffic officers also did not impound a single vehicle that month.

DA caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said these statistics were of concern because the traffic by-laws were flouted every minute in Msunduzi.

“This information is either incorrect or this department is not performing their duties,” he said.

General manager for community services Boniwe Zulu said some of the offences, such as drinking and driving, fell under the SAPS’ responsibilities.

She said even after catching a driver who had consumed excessive alcohol, the City’s traffic officers had to hand them over to the police for prosecution.

Zulu said this year the traffic department also experienced capacity challenges related to the tools of trade as even their firearms were seized.

May’s seizure of apparently more than 200 firearms was suspected to be linked to ongoing investigations related to incidents of political violence in the region.

“We no longer have a night shift of traffic officers that are working. They stop work at 6 o’clock in the evening and start again at 6 o’clock in the morning because we have been disarmed.

“The process is continuing and as far as I know there is no indication as to when are we going to be armed again.”

Zulu said they could not catch speeding drivers because they did not have the cameras to conduct those functions. She said financial constraints were also a reason why operations like roadblocks were sometimes not done.

The majority of the operations were done at night, “and that has an impact on overtime so if it’s towards the end of the financial year, your budget might be limited”, she said.

Ngcobo said Msunduzi lost its licence for conducting speed prosecution by camera. She said the matter has been under discussion for years with no success.

In 2015 The Witness reported on how the City’s licence was withdrawn by the office of the KwaZulu-Natal director of public prosecutions (DPP) following complaints that Msunduzi had contravened the Criminal Procedure Act.

“We need the leadership to assist us because we really need it for speed prosecution. In terms of the DPP, we were told that they would take over but that is not happening but at the same time the City is not prosecuting using the cameras.”

Ngcobo said the administration would brief the new leadership on how they could intervene.

She said the loss of the licence also had a negative impact on Msunduzi’s revenue as it had dropped significantly.

Councillor Ntuthuko Ntshangase said in future the committee also wanted to know how many cases of drunk driving the City’s traffic department had referred to the police to ascertain if the unit was functioning effectively.

The IFP’s Thinasonke Ntombela said he did not understand what the need for the traffic department was if they could not carry out some of the functions that should be part of their duties.

Glenn McArthur said council should work out whether it was getting its money’s worth from the traffic department as it was supposed to be generating some revenue for Msunduzi.

He asked for a detailed report outlining the unit’s expenditure as well as its income.


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