No cops at night and weekends

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Motorists might have a field day breaking the law as they wish over weekends and during the night in Mpumalanga.

This follows the alleged cancellation of overtime pay for staff, including about 1000 traffic cops, in the provincial department of roads and transport.

The department has apparently overspent on employees, goods and services, as well as payment of capital asset items, according to its 2008/9 financial year budget.

This came to light after a management meeting on January 15 at which cost reduction measures were approved.

The measures were implemented on January 19 and will continue until March 31, the end of the current financial year.

According to the department's circular, a copy of which Sowetan has, no overtime work from January to March within the department will be allowed.

"For as long as overtime in the case of traffic cops means working during the weekends and at night, we shall just stay at home doing nothing.

"Motorists may as well break all the road regulations because there won't be anyone to monitor them," said a traffic cop who wanted to remain anonymous.

"I believe the department is bankrupt because it did not only cancel overtime, but has cut other costs as well," added the traffic officer.

A spot check by Sowetan between Nelspruit and Bushbuckridge at the weekend revealed that traffic cops were not on duty along the R40 and the road between Hazyview and the Kruger Gate.

The source said traffic cops had not yet been declared essential service providers.

"When you saw us working over the weekends and during the night it was because we were doing overtime, which has now been cancelled," the source said.

According to the circular, the department will no longer pay for catering of meetings of less than three hours and has barred officials from purchasing photographic equipment until the end of the financial year.

The circular was signed by a Mr Mhlabane on behalf of the departmental head, Martin Mokonyama.

The department's spokesman, Dumisane Malamule, said he did not know about a circular that barred traffic cops from operating on weekends and at night.

"The department will remain visible on the roads," Malamule said.