South Africa News

Durban moves to protect metro police cars from Sheriff

Ethekwini Municipality has obtained a stay order to prevent the sheriff of the labour court from attaching and auctioning about 40 metro police cars.

This was to recoup over R7 million to compensate employees who were overlooked for top positions in the city’s police unit.

Following a successful dispute by five metro police officers over the appointment of Steve Middleton as head of the metro police in 2018, the city was ordered to compensate the police who were overlooked for the position.

The position was apparently unfairly given to Middleton, side-lining Aubrey Mthethwa, a senior superintendent and Nhlanhla Mthethwa, an assistant commissioner, according to the order which was issued in December.

In their dispute through the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), the officers claimed Middleton’s appointment was not in line with the metro police employment equity policy and there was no motivation to support it as per the municipal policy.

They further argued that Middleton had never been a registered traffic officer and lacked the basic skills required for that job. In addition, the South African Police Services Act, which allowed for the establishment of a metro police force, stipulated that the head of metro police should be appointed by a sitting of the full council – which did not happened.

The bargaining council order stated that the failure by eThekwini Municipality to appoint either of the Mthethwas, who were both interviewed for the job, was unfair as they were more qualified than Middleton.

As compensation, Charles Oakes, the commissioner of the KwaZulu-Natal Bargaining Council ordered the municipality to pay the Mthethwas almost R3m each in compensation and a protected promotion to the level of the head of metro police.

He said the amounts were 30 months back bay from which the appointment was made.

He also ordered the city to award the other three applicants over R400 000 each, which was based on the six month back pays calculated from their earnings per month.

The municipality was instructed to pay the compensation by May, but it had not done so.

This prompted the lawyers who represented the aggrieved cops to approach the labour court which instructed the sheriff to attach and auction over 40 metro police cars to raise the funds.

The vehicles were set to go under the hammer next month to recoup a portion of the money due to the cops.

But the city moved swiftly to bring an urgent stay application which was heard at the labour court on Friday.

The court granted the order to stop the sheriff from attaching the municipality vehicles pending the review application of the award.

The matter has since been subjected to review and judgment will be issued once both parties have made fresh arguments.

Msawakhe Mayisela, city spokesperson, said the municipality would allow the court processes to be finalised before making any comments on the matter.

-Sunday Tribune

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