THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport has taken a drastic step to suspend a traffic official who was caught on CCTV cameras stealing a cellphone in full uniform in Pietermaritzburg.The officer in question has been served with a letter of suspension pending an internal investigation and a criminal case which is being investigated by the police.Last week, a video went virial on social media of a departmental traffic officer from the Public Transport Enforcement Unit (PTES — also known as Shanela), allegedly stealing a cellphone at Nando’s food outlet.The department launched its own internal investigation and has met with the management of the fast food outlet to verify the authenticity of the video and consider taking tougher action since the police was in full uniform. The officer has since taken leave, however, he was served with a notice of suspension while he is on leave.The officer’s suspension follows a letter written by the department last week in order to afford him the opportunity to give his version of the story and for him to give reasons as to why he should not be suspended.Commenting on the latest developments, the head of department, Sibusiso Gumbi, described the alleged action of the traffic officer as embarrassing to the law enforcement fraternity and tarnishing the department’s reputation.“We view this video footage very seriously. The alleged action by the traffic officer tarnishes the image of the department and discredits the moral standing of our enforcement authorities in public. Law enforcement officers by virtue of their oath, must be beyond reproach and must always be exemplary, even when they are off duty. This suspension will send a strong message that this department will not tolerate corruption and all forms of crime. We are also working in collaboration with the police to ensure that the finalisation of this matter is expedited,” said Gumbi.Gumbi said moving forward, more scrutiny will be given to the conduct of enforcement officers to ensure improved moral and ethical standard in their work and in public. The department has vowed to act against any traffic officer who is involved in fraud and corruption. — Supplied.