The mayors and their mini-armies

2012-01-28 18:52

Bodyguards cost ratepayers millions

In what could easily be seen as a show of power, mayors of major towns and cities across the country are being escorted by mini-armies.

Buffalo City mayor Zukiswa Ncitha has four bodyguards, which costs the Eastern Cape municipality’s ratepayers more than R1.1 million a year.

Tshwane mayor Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has seven, while in Merafong, which includes Carletonville and Khutsong, four bodyguards are serving Mayor Maphefo Mogale-Letsie.

Two weeks ago, City Press reported that the SA Local Government Association (Salga) wanted insurance – at government’s expense – to cover themselves and their properties against violent service delivery protests.

In Mbombela, where speaker Jimmy Mohlala was killed three years ago, mayor Cathy Dlamini has several staff who provide protective services.

Mbombela also provides security at Dlamini’s private residence and for other councillors through private security firms. The municipality picks up the bill.

As a result, its spending on private security services increased from nearly R7.3 million in 2010 to more than R11.3 million last year.

The mayor of cash-strapped Mohokare Municipality, Agnes Mokgoro-Shasha, decided against using her predecessor Motshewa Sehanka’s two bodyguards. Mohokare was placed under administration in 2008 for its council’s failure to execute executive obligations.

According to the mayoral handbook, mayors can approach provincial police commissioners for analysis of their security and their councils must implement the recommended security arrangements.

Even former mayors are entitled to security as long as provincial police commissioners deem this necessary.

Police spokesperson Captain Dennis Adriao did not respond to questions sent to him this week.

While their core function is to protect their principals, some mayoral bodyguards have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Former bodyguard Enock Matshaba is on trial with his boss, former Rustenburg mayor Matthew Wolmarans, for the murder of corruption-busting councillor Moss Phakoe.

Former Zululand mayor Blessing Gwala’s bodyguard, Nkosinathi Nkwanyana, was allegedly strangled to death by his colleague, Londimpilo Thusi, in March last year.

According to DA member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature Tom Stokes, Umtshezi Municipality in Escourt has 11 bodyguards for its mayor, Bongani Dlamini, his deputy, Bheki Dlamini, speaker Cesar Nunes and municipal manager Nonhlanhla Njoko.

The salaries of the bodyguards range from R15 000 to R17 500 a month, which means Umtshezi spends between R2 million and R2.3 million a year for bodyguard services.

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