The Department of Transport has made it clear that the safety of traffic officers in the Eastern Cape is not a primary concern, having last issued bullet proof vests to officers over eight years ago.
At a time when law enforcement officers are being targeted and brutally gunned down by criminal elements, it is simply unacceptable that traffic officials have had to risk their lives on a daily basis without the necessary life-saving equipment.
In response to a parliamentary question, MEC for Transport, Weziwe Tikana, revealed that the department last issued bullet proof vests to traffic officers in the 2009/10 financial year.
Tikana showed that since then no funds have been budgeted for the purchase of bullet proof vests, and subsequently no vests have been purchased.
SEE: IQP 34 Q 470
The MEC goes on to say that no vests have been issued so far this year, but states that Supply Chain Management in the Department is currently in the process of procurement and tenders. However, she also states that this is subject to the availability of sufficient funds.
If history is anything to go by, the probability is good that these funds will not be found.
As we approach the festive season, these traffic officers will be expected to play a significant role in the provincial safety plan, which will include road blocks and clamping down on unlawful behaviour.
The current escalation of taxi violence in the province, with rival taxi associations brazenly opening fire on one another, places these officers directly in the line of fire.
How can the Department expect these traffic officers to safely perform their duties if they do not have bulletproof vests.
The Democratic Alliance is very concerned about the safety of our traffic officials and calls on the MEC to prioritize the procurement of bulletproof vests for our traffic officers.