We want water, not Nokias, locals tell mayor

2013-04-14 14:01

A Limpopo mayor has been spending public funds on TV sets, cellphones and hi-fi systems – all for his constituents.

Serite Sekgoloane’s “generosity” comes at a time when his municipality, in Bochum, is broke, has placed a moratorium on providing basic services and many of the residents are without water and sanitation.

Sekgoloane is mayor of the Blouberg local municipality.

City Press has learnt that Sekgoloane:

» Bought 250 Nokia 1 200 cellphones as gifts for disabled residents in 2010. These cost about R200 each. He has confirmed this;

» Bought JVC plasma-screen TV sets and mini hi-fi systems for 42 families last December. These cost a total of R292 000. He has confirmed this;

» Has two official vehicles – a Dodge Calibre bought in 2009 and a Mercedes-Benz C350 bought in 2011. Brand new, prices for the these vehicles range between R346 000 and R620 000. He also has two drivers. He confirmed having two cars, but denied having two drivers; and

» Allegedly uses council funds, employees and equipment to organise his birthday party every year. He denied this allegation.

City Press visited Hananona, a village outside Bochum, and saw the reported TV sets and hi-fi systems in people’s homes.

Speaking through municipal manager Patrick Kgoale, the mayor said the council had approved the purchase of TV sets and mini hi-fi systems.

Kgoale said the funds used to buy the appliances and gadgets came from a saving obtained after electrifying the same households, adding that the cellphones were gifts.

“The mayor’s office runs a programme called ‘special focus’. This programme deals with issues like HIV/Aids awareness campaigns, anti-crime campaigns, care for people living with disabilities, children, women, the elderly, and youth and sports development.

“In 2010, a Christmas party was done for disabled people who were bought the cellphones as gifts.”

Kgoale further explained that the Dodge Calibre was a mayoral vehicle which was “retired” after clocking more than 150 000km.

“Given our road conditions, perpetual breakdowns of the Mercedes-Benz and the amount that the municipality was to incur in hiring courtesy cars every time the Benz breaks down, the Dodge was recalled from the pool and reserved for the mayor’s use as part of our austerity measures.”

Thabiso Malatji, who lives in an RDP house on the outskirts of Bochum and is without running water and a toilet, said he was shocked to hear what council money had been spent on.

“Shock is an understatement. It confirms my belief that politicians cannot be trusted,” said Malatji.

The Blouberg local municipality recently received a disclaimer from the Auditor-General.

Last month, its council issued two circulars announcing that it was stopping the procurement of goods and services as well as catering services until further notice, citing cash-flow problems.

Kgoale is also a controversial figure.

He was suspended by the very council in October, which he challenged in court.

He lost the case, but defied the council and the court and is back at work.

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