Minister Carlisle: National Traffic Police are Welcome in Western Cape, under Proper Authority
Media Statement by Robin Carlisle, Minister of Transport and Public Works
Province will gladly accept the National Traffic Police Unit's help under local authority. The issue is over the unlawful establishment of the unit. Any arrest by the unit operating on its own represents an opportunity for a lawsuit for unlawful arrest, for which the taxpayer will have to pick up the tab.
Reports that I have banned the National Traffic Police Unit from the Western Cape deserve clarification as they are inaccurate and it appears that a perception is forming of a "turf war" between national and provincial governments at the expense of road safety. There are allegations doing the rounds that I have called the unit corrupt and incompetent.
I have even been publicly challenged by the NTPU's spokesperson Ashref Ismail to "tell the public why the unit does not fill regulatory requirements" and also that I should have raised my concerns with the RTMC Shareholders' Committee (see Cape Times, page 3, 20 December 2011).
The reality is that the National Traffic Policing Unit's establishment appears to be unlawful on several grounds, and there is evidence that they may have been set up as toll road enforcers. Despite the political capital that would have been gained by this, I did not go public with it.
My concerns, including those over the NTPU, were instead detailed in a letter which I supplied to the Shareholders' Committee of the Road Traffic Management Corporation on 22 August 2011. No response to this letter has been forthcoming, and follow up from my office has been ignored.
Some of the key concerns raised in the letter are:
- The gazetting of the appointment of the traffic officers was only approved five months after implementation by the Shareholder's Committee and then under questionable circumstances.
- The appointment of the Acting CEO, who appointed the NTPU officers, was found by the Labour Court in Morule vs RTMC to be unlawful, irregular and invalid. A copy of the judgment is available on request.
- NTPU officers were unlawfully appointed, some with criminal convictions and that issuing of firearms was questionable.
- NTPU may have been established as toll fee enforcers for SANRAL. A copy of the agreement SANRAL's Nazir Allie and the RTMC's Collins Letsoalo were negotiating about toll fees is available on request.
Under the circumstances, to allow the NTPU to operate on their own in the province unchallenged is unacceptable. Simply put, any arrests they carry out or summons they issue may be subject to legal challenge. If the figures given by the Acting CEO of the RTMC are correct, it is possible they have already made hundreds of arrests elsewhere in the country.
Each one of those arrests represents an opportunity for a lawsuit for unlawful arrest for which the taxpayer will have to pick up the tab. For example, if each one of those approximately 250 officers has only made five arrests in the last nine months and that arrest leads to a R1 million settlement, the state is already looking at R1 billion in fruitless and wasteful expenditure. These officers are also carrying guns, which I understand may have been illegally issued, and the legal consequences should they shoot anyone in the course of their duties will indeed be severe.
While I would have preferred to continue on the route of resolving this internally, the challenge from the RTMC in the media has made this impossible. This is not a fight I have picked, but it is one I am quite prepared to finish.
It is regrettable that this matter has not been resolved internally, and that the issue of the NTPU has come to light during the festive season road carnage, and that I am now threatened with legal action for doing my job. I reiterate my welcome to the NTPU to operate in the province under the auspices of local law enforcement.
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