The city’s metro police and security unit has racked up overtime claims of almost R90million in just one month, as some staff claimed they worked almost 300 hours more during the lockdown.
The massive overtime bill, which was for April, was revealed in a leaked internal council report which The Mercury has seen.
The eThekwini Municipality has conceded that while there was a high demand for security and police to enforce the lockdown regulations, “it was human nature that some would see the opportunity to inflate hours and make more money”.
The report shows how some security officers working in the city’s land invasion unit, who earn about R30000 a month, walked away with a salary amounting to more than R90000 after their overtime payment in April.
Some employed in security services, at the City Hall precinct, pocketed more than R70000 in April – while some bodyguards earning less than R20000 a month claimed at least R51000 in overtime.
Although the municipality’s permitted overtime cap is at 40 hours a month, the spreadsheet documents showed staff far exceeding the capped hours.
In a separate document to council, that provides reasons for the increased overtime costs, it was reported that due to the vastness of the municipal area and the increase in land invasions, the unit only exercised its functions over key areas, which were only 11% of the total area.
Overtime was only paid for weekend work from 7am to 3pm, but some staff working in the unit claimed up to 260 overtime hours a month.
The report found that VIP Protection was claiming excessive overtime, as the demand for providing protection services to office bearers, councillors and officials had been rising.
“The system is open to manipulation of hours worked, as we don’t have adequate control,” the report further stated.
The job description of those employed to protect the City Hall precinct included minimising the detrimental impact of criminal activity around the City Hall, its staff, property, office bearers and the public.
The report stated that vandalism and petty crime was a “huge problem”, however, politically motivated incidents and protests were also a major concern.
However, during the lockdown, while the public’s movement was restricted, some of these staff claimed to have worked almost 300 hours in overtime and were paid an additional R50000 each for April.
City spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said during the lockdown, which began on March 26, there had been a “substantial” demand for metro police officers to enforce the lockdown regulations.
“There are times when metro officers had to be called into the townships, and so on, to enforce these lockdown regulations.
“It is human nature that some would see the opportunity to inflate hours and make more money, but some have been caught due to measures in place to prevent this,” Mayisela said. He added that 15 metro police officers had been caught inflating their overtime hours, which had since been reduced.
“They have since gone to the Bargaining Council in protest. One captain has been fired. More investigations are under way to rid the metro police of this conduct by a few individuals and, if found guilty, the law will take its course. We thank all members who are honest and call upon them to help the city in its bid to ensure that every cent goes to service delivery, as opposed to people’s pockets,” Mayisela said.
DA councillor Chris van den Berg said the issue of excessive overtime claims had been frequently raised in the Finance, Security and Emergency Committee, but complaints of fraud and abuse relating to overtime have not been dealt with.
“How could any person in responsible authority routinely and reasonably sign off this much overtime? These are the same bodyguards who ratepayers are paying ‘clothing allowances’ because they supposedly couldn’t afford suits, yet some of them seem to earn R60000 a month.”
While ANC chief whip Sibongiseni Mkhize referred The Mercury to the mayor’s office for comment, mayor Mxolisi Kaunda’s spokesperson Mluleki Mtungwa said that the city’s comment would suffice on this matter. The IFP’s Mdu Nkosi said that overtime payments had always been a “nightmare” in eThekwini Municipality as “not a meeting goes by without us talking about it”.
“There is something wrong with the internal controls of the city’s finances. This overtime claim from the security unit alone can bankrupt the city. It is not fair to the citizens of eThekwini that people are manipulating the system,” Nkosi said.