Push to fill Bay metro vacancies

Safety and security department wants to hire 1 024 staff in key areas including firefighting

Nelson Mandela Bay. File Picture.
Nelson Mandela Bay. File Picture.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s safety and security department is hoping to fill more than 1 000 vacancies over the next five years.

An ambitious plan to fill the 1 024 vacancies – 923 of which are not funded in the department’s budget – was unveiled at a safety and security portfolio committee meeting yesterday.

Vacancies in the department were last filled in 2004.

Of the vacancies, 19 are in disaster management, 250 in the metro police, 203 in fire and emergency services and 235 are in security, among others. The municipality is also hoping to partner with the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) in an attempt to fill some of the vacancies.

We need to seriously consider how we can combat crime, especially with the staff shortages.
DA councillor Gustav Rautenbach

Part of the plan includes approaching the budget and treasury department to secure additional money.

Safety and security political head John Best said the vacancies had led to firefighters and other staff being overworked for the past 14 years.

“If we don’t have enough staff in the fire department, if there’s a major fire and a tender [a fire engine] goes out but we only have five people on, we have to send a second tender by law.

“If we had six people there and the tender had a full staff complement, we wouldn’t have to send a second tender,” Best said.

“The firemen are overworked and they have been overworked for the past 14 years and this is something that we are trying to address.”

The municipality needs to employ 134 firefighters.
“We have taken this vacancies issue very seriously – we have met with budget and treasury three months ago.

“We understand there is not enough money but we will now start filling these vacancies,” Best said.

DA councillor Gustav Rautenbach said the municipality needed to consider having its own policing model.

“People are getting murdered – are people’s lives worth so little?

“Has it not become time that we look into having a new model of policing and have our own commissioner to address the rate of crime while we combat the vacancies?” he said

“There is a huge spike in house robberies – what are we going to do to address this? This is a concern. All the planning in the world is good but we need to do something.

“We need to seriously consider how we can combat crime, especially with the staff shortages.”

ANC councillor Andile Mfunda said: “These vacancies are a lot, we must address them because we need the manpower.

“The shortage of staff and manpower is not acceptable, we must find a way to fill these vacancies.”