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Protesters overshadow Nelson Mandela Bay’s Metro police launch

The launch of Nelson Mandela Bay’s much anticipated metro police force on Friday was overshadowed by angry traffic officers from the metro’s safety and security department protesting outside the city hall while mayor Danny Jordaan delivered his speech.

Jordaan introduced the acting metro police chief Andrew Moses at the official launch. Metro police chief Pinkie Mathabethe – who was employed in 2014 – was not at the launch on Friday. Moses said she had been placed on sick leave.

Jordaan said Moses came into the position “highly qualified” from the SA Police Service and would focus on, among others, traffic law enforcement, enforcement of municipal by-laws, and crime prevention.

The metro police had been seven years in the making. Acting executive director for corporate services Vuyi Zitumane said R225 million had been budgeted for operations this year.

Zitumane said the metro was looking at a phased approach with Kwanobhule and Helenvale to be the first areas for the roll-out.

However, a disgruntled traffic officer Ginga Nangu said they wanted the council to put a proper structure forward.

“There are outstanding issues around back pay and where people were supposed to be given their four notches, but that has not happened. They are saying 200 or something qualify, but 300 people do not meet the requirement for the metro police,” complained Nangu.

“They must give the proper grades. We want to know what’s going to happen with those who do not qualify? We are only willing to join the metro police force once all the issues have been finalised. We are not party to the metro police. We have not even been invited. Before they recruit us they must resolve our outstanding issues,” he said.

SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) regional secretary Mqondisi Nodongwe raised questions around how metro police officers would carry out their duties without having received proper training.

“We have never discussed the placement areas. They are saying it’s not a placement, but are giving them letters so they can act. Our biggest concern is the non-consultation on the implementation of the metro police. We believe it’s going to affect the future of our members as employees.

“That’s a question we have been raising because they have never been trained; they are merely traffic officers and some are from the security division, but they are not properly trained on how to deal with crime,” said Nodongwe.

Responding to the issues raised by the disgruntled union members, Zitumane said less than 200 people did not meet the requirements to be absorbed into the metro police.

“We have taken the decision as the metro to absorb everyone who wants to move to the metro police, irrespective if they meet the requirements or not. However, we will assist them to meet those requirements which are matric, traffic and police training, and having no criminal record.”

There was a process plan to identify those who did not meet the requirements. “We will have our own in-house training centre on policing; they will also get the traffic qualification. We have funds dedicated for them, set aside for them to take the training in order to meet the requirements, so no one is going to be excluded,” said Zitumane.

The metro was looking at having 207 metro police officers on the road by the end of this year.

“To date, we have appointed 78 officials who have accepted letters of appointment. They will be inducted next week. Only after they have been inducted will they be on the roads.”

It was not immediately clear when the metro police officers would start their duties. Jordaan said the metro police launch was about creating a safe living environment for all.

“I want to assure staff members that we will not do anything to jeopardise their job security. The metro police will not automatically solve crime. We want to advise those who recklessly politicise crime and the suffering of the families to stop doing so.

“This metro is far down the list of the most unsafe metros. We have to continue to fight crime and pursue progress,” said Jordaan.

– Africa News Agency

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