Durban cops trash city
Angry about their boss and want the city to permanently employ 600 officers who have been temporary workers for over five years
FRUSTRATED Durban Metro police officers stormed the city hall yesterday, demanding that the unit’s controversial head, Eugene Nzama be suspended or moved to another department.
They then threatened to stay until the city gave a commitment to permanently employ 600 officers who have been temporary workers for over five years.
The situation was so tense that the entire municipal executive council (EXCO) and ANC eThekwini regional leadership had to intervene by holding a closed meeting to cool tempers.
“Enough is enough. We have been waiting for the city to respond to our grievances long enough and nothing has been forthcoming,” one officer shouted.
“The mayor and other city management promised that by July 1, all temporary officers would have been converted to permanent, but it has not happened.
“We risk our lives, protecting the city's citizens, but we have nothing to show for it.”
The Mercury newspaper reported that the Metro Police officers went on the rampage in the Durban city centre.
The officers reportedly blocked roads, barged into the administration offices and threatened to burn down the city hall if their demands were not met.
They also toyi-toyied, banged on taxis and stopped cars from driving in Dr Pixley kaSeme Street.
According to the Mercury, members of the SA Police Service called in to control the crowd appeared nervous as the metro police officers were armed with service weapons.
The city has been at loggerheads with officers since last year.
The officers raised a number of grievances, including that they wanted Nzama to be placed on suspension while the investigation into maladministration and instability during his leadership was being conducted.
The city succumbed to officers’ demands in June, and put Nzama on a special leave.
At the time, the municipality promised to investigate allegations of abuse of power and defeating the ends of justice.
Nzama was also accused of conducting business deals with the council.
After Nzama launched legal proceedings in the Durban Labour Court, demanding that his special leave be lifted, the municipality allowed him to return to work, which resurrected the anger of the 1,200-strong police unit.
ANC eThekwini regional chairman Sibongiseni Dhlomo yesterday pleaded with officers to maintain order.
“I am pleading with you not to ruin your genuine concerns. A political decision was taken that the city must bypass all provisions of the law to try and solve the issues,” he said.
South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) deputy regional secretary Nkosenhle Madlala said if the city officials do not give in to their demands, they will not return to work.
Mayor James Nxumalo said the city officials had to follow processes in implementing the resolutions previously agreed upon, including the full- time employment of all temporary officers and other employees.
“But it must be understood that while we took a decision, there are processes that need to be followed. Let’s be reasonable. You can’t expect us to do it overnight. Give us time to finalize everything,” begged Nxumalo.