The traffic department that hasn’t issued a ticket for years

“We used to have ticket books, but they were stolen” says a traffic officer in Ngcobo, Eastern Cape.

Traffic officers at Dr AB Xuma Local Municipality in Ngcobo say their department is dysfunctional. The six traffic officers and five law enforcement officers have now initiated a grievance procedure.

ALSO READ: RTIA says Aarto Act implementation will increase municipalities’ income

We spoke to three of the officers. They requested that they not be quoted individually.

Functions non-existent

They claim they are almost completely left to their own devices. There is no daily parade, no work plan and no duties are delegated to them. They have no ticket books and they lack even a card identifying them as officers.

“It is difficult to work without an appointment card because there’s nothing that you can show the motorist, and a motorist can just drive off if you’re not producing it,” said one of the officers.

The officers told GroundUp they haven’t issued a ticket since 2022 for any of the common offences from reckless driving and illegal parking to un-roadworthy vehicles and moving violations.

“We used to have ticket books, but they were stolen,” said an officer. “Later they were recovered. But they went missing again and since then we have not had them.”

Councillor Nkosinathi Cetman (EFF) said that there is no revenue collection from traffic law enforcement and that the matter has been raised several times in council.

The officers say that when there are accidents, they are mere bystanders. They have no accident report forms and nothing is recorded.

They also have no equipment such as speed traps or breathalysers.

ALSO READ: Aarto implementation could result in municipal traffic services ‘shutting down’

High on their grievance list, as it affects their salaries, is the claim that five of the officers have no traffic diploma, and three of them are earning higher salaries than the six traffic officers who do have diplomas.

They place the blame for the department’s incapacity on chief inspector Bandile Macingwane. They say he spends his time doing learners’ and drivers’ licence tests and checking vehicles for roadworthiness instead of running the department.

They say when they issued tickets in the past, Macingwane often did not do the necessary follow-ups at the Magistrates’ Court.

Approached for comment, Macingwane said he is not authorised to communicate or share any work-related information with journalists.

The officers say they approached their union, South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), but the union dragged its feet and they decided to proceed on their own.

The officers lodged a formal complaint against Macingwane in their personal capacity with the head of the traffic department, Nonkukiso Matiwane. They say she refused to accept their memorandum.

Officers take a stand, get rewarded with disciplinary hearings against them

They then went to municipal manager Khathutshelo Mulaudzi in February. A few weeks later six of them received letters charging them with gross insubordination, incompatibility (intolerable behaviour at the workplace), and “putting the name of the municipality into disrepute”.

In the one notice of disciplinary hearing that GroundUp has seen, the officer is charged with disobeying instructions from Macingwane on three occasions in November and December 2023, including failing to attend a meeting, storming out of a meeting and failing to direct traffic.

The officers say they have no faith in the disciplinary process as they have reason to believe the presiding officer, Xolani Mbeleni, is not neutral.

The disciplinary action, originally scheduled for 25 March, was postponed to 9 and 10 May, but Mbeleni apparently did not pitch up, and it was rescheduled for 4 June.

The officers claim that on 25 March, the original day for the the disciplinary hearing, Macingwane met Mbeleni at a fuel station at New Rest Shopping Complex and the meeting was caught on CCTV. They have shown the footage to GroundUp. Macingwane seems to pay for food and fuel for Mbeleni and to give Mbeleni a temporary vehicle permit.

Mbeleni did not answer his phone or respond to our questions sent on WhatsApp.

ALSO READ: Like it or not, demerit points are coming

The officers then approached the Local Government Bargaining Council claiming they are the victims of unfair labour practice. The council referred the matter to conciliation on 25 April. The outcome was unresolved after the municipality failed to attend, according to the officers.

“We now want to take this matter to court. We are still approaching lawyers for advice. What we know is that if we keep quiet, we will end up losing our jobs for nothing. The union failed us; we are now fighting on our own,” said an officer.

SAMWU secretary Sive Tisana said they are aware of the workers’ grievances and the disciplinary hearing but are not in a position to comment as the officers have elected to be represented by a colleague at their disciplinary hearing, not by SAMWU.

Eastern Cape Department of Transport spokesperson Unathi Binqose referred us back to the municipality.

Municipality spokesperson Sivuyile Myeko said, “The municipality is not at liberty to divulge information at this stage as this is a matter between the employer and the employee. Providing comments could jeopardise the ongoing process.”

This article originally appeared on GroundUp and was republished with permission. Read the original article here.