Members of the National Traffic Police have refused to leave their deployment base in Midrand‚ north of Johannesburg‚ embarking on an impromptu illegal strike to voice their workplace grievances.
The officers have been on a go-slow since Monday‚ with half of the 40 officers per shift going out to enforce national traffic laws on the country’s major roads‚ but this failed to draw the attention of their superiors and they went on an illegal strike.
The officers said they were treated in an inhumane manner and have no proper equipment to carry out their duties.
One of the burning issues is that they have been removed from their posh offices in Faerie Glen‚ Pretoria East‚ and “dumped” in open veld near Midrand‚ with a single mobile toilet for about 40 female and male officers.
The fenced-off open area‚ which this publication visited on Wednesday adjacent to the SA National Roads Agency offices in Samrand‚ does not have a shelter and the officers have to take refuge in their cars to escape the blazing sun or heat. A putrid smell from sewerage flowing into the nearby stream hangs over the base as some of the idling officers eat their lunch.
“This is not fair at all. We are literally dumped here. There are at least 40 officers per shift‚ who have to share a single mobile toilet that has no sanitation facilities. When it’s hot or when it rains‚ you have to sit in the car‚” a male traffic officer said.
The officers also complained that they were not consulted whenever decisions that affected their lives were taken; saying their shifts were changed at a drop of a hat without allowing them a chance to adjust and make arrangements.
They used to receive a R370 cell phone allowance‚ 350 megabytes of data and 50 SMSes per month but all these perks necessary to carry out their duties‚ like calling for backup‚ have been replaced with walkie-talkies. “The push-to-talk radio does not receive or make phone calls. We are unable to call for backup as these things are inaudible. Also‚ investigating officers handling cases of drunken driving are unable to reach us‚ which results in dockets idling and cases dragging forever. When we arrest a drunken driver we have to call the police but we cannot with these things‚” one officer said.
The officer said they were no longer allowed to take the marked state issue vehicles home and were now forced to take taxis to work‚ which they said exposed them to danger as they were in uniform and carrying firearms.
“When we complain we are told to come in our private clothes and change when we get here. But there are no changerooms here. It is just bare ground. You take an unroadworthy taxi off the road and then the following day you are in the same taxi commuting to work. This is embarrassing‚” he said.
The officers have vowed to remain on the base and will not go out to carry out their policing duties‚ leaving the country’s major national roads without a visible national traffic police presence‚ until their grievances were resolved.
Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesperson Simon Zwane is yet to respond to questions.