A SERIOUS staff shortage at Port Elizabeth’s embattled traffic department is holding up the execution of warrants of arrest for more than R2-million in outstanding traffic fines.
This has emerged amid an investigation by the elite police unit the Hawks into allegations that senior officials were paid to cancel traffic fines and warrants of arrest.
A report on the city’s safety and security department’s plans to execute the outstanding warrants of arrest, which is expected to be discussed at a council meeting today, highlights the staff problem.
There are only 12 officers in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro who can effect warrants of arrest for outstanding fines. Seven are based in Port Elizabeth and five in Uitenhage.
As a result of the staff shortages, there were 43486 warrants of arrest for a total of R2.072-million in May that had not been executed.
In the report, safety and security acting executive director Shane Brown said: "The shortage of staff is seriously hampering the warrant of arrest unit in discharging their obligations ...
"As a result of the staff shortage, the number of roadblocks has been reduced from five in Port Elizabeth to three and from five in Uitenhage to two. All these roadblocks are combined, which results in one area not attended to on certain days.
"For example, three roadblocks in PE and two roadblocks in Uitenhage means PE will be disadvantaged by two days and Uitenhage by three days,” Brown said.
In an effort to strengthen the unit, 13 officers from the law enforcement unit would be transferred to help effect the warrants of arrest.
Brown said they were considering the reintroduction of an amnesty programme to assist with revenue collection.
Last month, the Hawks swooped on the traffic department and seized documents following allegations that officials at the municipal courts in Sidwell were accepting bribes to keep cases off the court roll.