WATCH: Protests hit Nelson Mandela Bay metro cop launch

2016-05-13 20:17
An angry cop remonstrates with protesters at the Nelson Mandela Bay metro launch. (Derrick Spies, News24 Correspondent)

An angry cop remonstrates with protesters at the Nelson Mandela Bay metro launch. (Derrick Spies, News24 Correspondent)

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Port Elizabeth – After seven years of promises, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has finally got a Metro Police Service, but some of the municipal employees who are supposed to be a part of the service are not happy.

A group of about 50 municipal employees, including traffic officials and other members of the municipality's safety and security directorate, protested in Govan Mbeki Avenue opposite the Vuyisile Mini Square, where the launch took place.

Blaring traffic sirens while Mayor Danny Jordaan was speaking, the group, who are members of the South African Municipal Workers' Union, said the negotiations around the transfer of members from the safety and security directorate and traffic department had not yet been concluded.

This led to a tense stand-off between the municipal officials and members of the Public Order Policing unit, which was in sharp contrast to the image of co-operation between the SAPS and the municipal police being portrayed just metres away.

"This is our future, not yours," said a female traffic official, who did not want to give her name, to the police as they faced each other down.

"That Metro Police is my future, but they must come right with us. We are not scared of Metro Police, we want Metro Police, but those people standing there [Danny Jordaan and councillors at the launch] must come in front, not by side," she said.

Police talking to protesters at the Nelson Mandela Bay metro launch. (Derrick Spies, News24 Correspondent)

Members do not qualify

"We are not casuals here. I have been working for 20 years. We are not going to be treated in this fashion," another traffic official told police.

Key among the concerns of the protesting officials was that a number of members did not qualify for the new Metro Police Service - which requires them to have a matric certificate, to have undergone the necessary training, and to have no criminal record.

Speaking at the press conference after the launch, Jordaan said: "The establishment of the Metro Police will not disadvantage any of our staff members or threaten their job security in any way."

Instead, it will create opportunities for further training, employment and career growth, he said.

Acting city manager Vuyo Zitumane told journalists that a two-day workshop and more than 12 sessions had taken place with staff and their union representatives.

Zitumane said all the members who were affected would be assisted where possible.

Police talking to protesters at the Nelson Mandela Bay metro launch. (Derrick Spies, News24 Correspondent)

Broken promise

"Those who do not qualify will be assisted by various means, including the waiver of educational qualifications requirements, provision of relevant training and consideration of recognition of prior learning based on job experience," she said.

Zitumane said those staff who were excluded because of criminal records would be assisted with applying to have their records expunged, but pointed out that this was an external process.

Meanwhile, the DA said in a statement that the disruption of Friday's Metro Police launch "has exposed the glitzy media event as nothing more than a sham, a lie and a broken promise".

"Today Samwu regional secretary Mqondisi Nodongwe (pictured here during an interview) confirmed to the DA what we have been suspecting for some time: ANC Mayor Danny Jordaan's metro police launch was faked by putting ordinary Municipal staff in Metro Police uniforms, without any training or recruitment," DA mayoral candidate Athol Trollip said.

"So far all Mayor Jordaan has managed to achieve for a Metro Police Force is the unveiling of borrowed vehicles, fake Metro Police officers, a criminal appointment to the Head of Safety and Security and a Metro Police Chief who has earned over R1 million per year with absolutely no officers on the beat."

Trollip said more lives were put at risk if untrained traffic officers were put in the firing line of criminals.

"What is needed are well-equipped metro police headquarters, comprehensive combat, defence and firearm training, proper vehicle and equipment procurement and branding, and the hiring and screening of additional personnel."

Read more on:    police  |  port elizabeth  |  protests

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