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Brakes on elite traffic unit

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By SOLLY MAPHUMULO

Johannesburg - The supercop unit, launched with much fanfare by former Minister of Transport S’bu Ndebele in 2011, is falling apart.

The Star can reveal exclusively that more than 15 officers of the unit, including its chief, David Tembe, have resigned.

The exodus in the specialised national traffic policing unit started last year because the frustrated officers could not perform their duties, reliable sources have said.

On Wednesday, Tembe would neither deny nor confirm that he had resigned, but referred all queries to Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) spokesman Ashref Ismail.

Ismail refused to comment on detailed questions from The Star.

Insiders told The Star that the unit was in a shambles, adding it needed Minister of Transport Dikobe Ben Martins’s urgent intervention.

Howard Dembovsky from Justice Project South Africa said he was disappointed because his high hopes for the national traffic police intervention unit had not materialised. He called the unit “nothing but a lie”.

Several sources have told The Star that Tembe had cited interference and a lack of resources as some of the reasons for his leaving the unit.

Acting chief executive Collins Letsoalo had made it impossible for Tembe to do his work, one source said.

The unit lacked resources such as cars, radios, handcuffs, and number plate recognition devices to verify licences.

It was formed by the RTMC in 2011 to crack down on drunk driving and to reduce deaths on national roads throughout the country.

Sithembiso Zungu, former chairman of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, is among the officers who resigned. He said most of the officers who had left the unit were fed up because they were unable to perform their duties. Officers had been victimised and bullied.

solly.maphumulo@inl.co.za

The Star

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