Durban’s Metro Police chief takes bosses to court

2017-04-18 20:54
High court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

High court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Durban - Durban’s controversial Metro Police chief Eugene Nzama has taken his bosses to court, claiming he is being sidelined, ignored and, as a consequence, is unable to do his job.

In an application pending before the Durban High Court, Nzama wants an order "recognising, respecting and restoring" his role, and stopping high-ranking officials, including acting city manager Dumisile Nene, from "usurping his responsibilities".

Nzama was first appointed in October 2002.

Nene disputes many of his allegations. She says the case before the court is "strikingly similar" to a claim he lodged with the bargaining council. And until that is finalised, the court action is "vexatious" and should be dismissed.

Nzama is reportedly an unpopular boss and became a target of the former municipal manager Sbu Sithole, who left in December last year, according to his court papers. Nzama says Nene continued with the same "obstructive modus operandi".

In his affidavit, he says he was first appointed on a special contract, reporting to the deputy city manager. He was employed full-time in 2011. Then municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe signed his appointment. Sithole replaced Sutcliffe.

Soon after that, his duties were "drastically reduced".

"Sithole then began to overrule my decisions. New structures were formed without my involvement which led to the dissolution of legitimate units and the creation of new ones not accountable to me," Nzama says.

He says one such unit was to provide protection to councillors. Some officers were redeployed as security guards for councillors and areas in the City Hall, which had a negative impact on policing in the city.

'Excluded from the process'

The next snub was the appointment of Steve Middleton as his deputy in 2013.

"I was entirely excluded from the process of shortlisting. I was included at a later stage but when I objected to this I was ignored. Middleton now takes orders from the municipal manager, rendering me ineffectual and preventing me from doing my job," Nzama says.

Last July, about 20 vehicles were hired, apparently based on a requisition Middleton signed off on his behalf, without his approval.

He claimed he had, under protest, signed off two over-expenditure certificates, for R500 000 and R1.1m. He was unable to provide answers to internal audit about these hired vehicles.

He says Sithole withdrew the disciplinary charges he had laid against 30 officers for misconduct, for taking part in an illegal march while carrying their weapons.

He accused Sithole of negotiating in his absence with taxi owners, agreeing they would not be prosecuted for not having the necessary permits.

KwaZulu-Natal Safety and Security MEC Willies Mchunu had voiced his concerns and confirmed that the agreement should be nullified.

Read more on:    metro police  |  durban

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