Red flags over Durban’s multimillion-rand Covid-19 overtime bill

Massive overtime claims by eThekwini metro police and security staff during the Covid-19 lockdown are costing the city nearly R100-million a month.

According to a leaked internal council report on the overtime spending, security staff and Metro police have been doubling their salaries during the lockdown by claiming up to 300 hours overtime a month.

The city’s overtime cap is set at 40 hours a month per employee.

According to the report, which the Mail & Guardian has seen, one bodyguard who normally earns R20 000 a month racked up R50 000 in overtime during April, taking home R70 000 for the month.

Members of the city’s land-invasion unit, which falls under the metro police, claimed 260 hours a month in overtime, despite working overtime only on weekends as it is too dangerous for them to work at night. This meant that they worked 32-hour days on Saturday and Sunday.

Security staff guarding the Durban city hall precinct, who normally earn R20 000 monthly, took in an additional R50 000 each during April, working between 200 and 240 hours of overtime each. 

Last month, a full council meeting signed off on R99-million in Covid-19-related police overtime for May in its special-adjustment budget, which attributed the increase to the large number of roadblocks and compliance operations held by the city, as well as a delay in filling vacant posts.

Democratic Alliance councillor Chris van den Berg said excessive overtime claims by the unit of almost R70-million a month had been raised with the city’s finance, security and emergency services committee on a number of occasions.

“Complaints of fraud and abuse relating to overtime have, however, not been dealt with.  How could any person in authority routinely sign off on this much overtime?’’ Van den Berg asked.

He said that the unit’s members, who were earning up to R60 000 a month because of the overtime, were also being given clothing allowances to buy suits.

“The financial side of the lockdown in eThekwini has only hit ordinary people. ANC politicians seem to treat public money like a bottomless pit,” he said.

Van den Berg said he would request a forensic audit of the spending.

Last month the city approved a R2-million clothing allowance for its bodyguard staff. Previously, only 14 VIP protection guards received the allowance, but another 95 staff members were set to receive the R809-a-month allowance from July. 

City spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa had not responded to calls from the Mail & Guardian by the time of publication.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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