Jail officials, demand hundreds in Pietermaritzburg march

“We are tired of corrupt employees who abuse the community to feed their stomachs”

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Photo of protesters
Hundreds of residents and former municipal workers in Pietermaritzburg marched to the offices of Msunduzi Local Municipality on Monday to protest against alleged corruption in the municipality. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

Hundreds of residents and former municipal workers in Pietermaritzburg marched to the offices of Msunduzi Local Municipality on Monday to protest against corruption alleged in the municipality.

Residents are demanding clarity on R15 million budgeted for land acquisition in Greater Edendale which has apparently gone missing.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), Cosatu, the South African Communist Party (SACP), ANC activists and the South African Students Congress (Sasco) joined the march. Among the marchers were some of the 1,052 municipal workers dismissed in December 2016.

One of the marchers, Sizakele Mbongwa, who was dismissed in 2016 from the municipal waste department, said, “We want our jobs back. They took our jobs and reserved it for their relatives. Enough is enough! We are not stopping. Life is difficult. They fired us without any reasons. Our children are hungry and we are hungry.”

Dambuza resident Benzile Ndlovu, who is 76, said she joined the march hoping for change. “It breaks my heart to hear that millions are being misused. That money was meant to develop us. We live in mud houses and we have no toilets.”

“They [municipal officials] don’t care because they are well taken care of. They don’t know our struggle. As an older citizen I have rights. I could not sit at home while others are fighting for our rights. They must go to jail,” said Ndlovu.

Samwu chairperson for the Moses Mabhida region, Fanle Sibisi, said, “The municipality must provide answers about all these funds. Our people are hungry and unemployed. We have people inside the municipality employing their friends. We have Deputy Mayor Thobani Zuma, who employs his relatives. He makes all the decisions on hiring and firing council employees.

“We say it’s time the corrupt municipality management faces justice. They must be arrested and be dismissed from office. We are tired of corrupt employees who abuse the community to feed their stomachs,” said Sibisi.

The march started from Dales Park Sports Ground and wound through the city’s busy streets. Outside the uMgungundlovu Municipality offices, which are seated in Pietermaritzburg, songs were directed at the municipal manager Ray Ngcobo. Sibusiso Mkhize, councillor for ward 14, shouted, “Ngcobo must go to jail!”

Mtuza Mkhize, councillor for ward 21, said the Msunduzi municipal manager uses two signatures, “We cannot have a municipal manager who is known as Slindokuhle Adolph Hadebe and Sizwe Hadebe. What is his real name? We need to know.”

He also questioned the extension of a three-year to an 80-year lease to Vincent Myeni for the Midlands Sports Academy.

Among the long list of alleged irregularities and corruption raised in the memorandum is an advance payment of R8 million for the Jika Joe temporary housing project which it says has gone unaccounted.

The marchers handed a memorandum to Mayor Themba Njilo. The memorandum cites President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation speech promising a cleanup of corruption.

Njilo told marchers, “I will discuss this with the council and liaise with your leaders. Once we have discussed it you will have answers.”

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TOPICS:  Corruption Labour unions

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