Frightened councillors may resign

2013-10-08 00:00

RICHMOND councillors who live in fear for their lives are allegedly considering stepping down, given the relentless attacks on councillors and the mayor there.

A well-placed source within the municipality told The Witness that councillors are not given protection by bodyguards.

“This is a very difficult time for the councillors in this municipality as they no longer enjoy the work they do because of the situation in this area,” the source said.

Richmond Mayor Andrew Ragavaloo said he could not comment on behalf of other councillors, but said the ANC could comment.

“I am not going to pull out until the ship is steady. We want peace and stability in Richmond. These attacks are just criminal attacks that have nothing to do with politics. These people have their personal agendas of targeting councillors,” said Ragavaloo.

Municipal speaker Thulani Shabalala’s home has been attacked three times in two months. His car was petrol bombed in August, while his house was stoned. On the second occasion, on October 1, attempts were made to burn his house and car. Over the weekend his new replacement car was burned while parked in a shelter next to the house.

Shabalala, who was still in shock, declined to comment about the damage to his property following the attack. “My family wants me to step down as a councillor. They said they don’t want anything to do with this. The unknown people also attempted to burn my mother’s tractor parked at her house. She is not happy with me continuing in this position either,” said Shabalala. He would not say if he would be stepping down or not.

Meanwhile, teaching was disrupted at Indala High School as residents ordered pupils to join them in court for the appearance of six men and a woman on charges related to the damage of property in Richmond recently.

Thulasizwe Nzimande, Siyabonga Mncwabe, Mndelwa Sithole, Simingaye Gasela, Nhlakanipho Sithole, Mzwandile Mkhize and Thandazile Phoswa appeared at the Richmond Magistrate’s Court for three cases, two of malicious damage to property and one of arson.

Crowds picketed outside the court house in support of the accused. The police were called to monitor them as they chanted struggle songs and shouted outside while court was in session.

All accused were remanded in custody until October 14 for legal aid representation.

KwaZulu-Natal Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said: “It’s disturbing that the community members disrupted teaching at this school when we are only left with less than 15 days before exams.”

He said they appealed to the residents not to involve pupils in protests of this sort, as the safety of the pupils had to come first.

Moses Mabhida ANC regional secretary Supa Zuma said they have not received letters of resignation from the councillors in Richmond. “These are criminal activities and the law should take its course. We support the police arresting these criminals. If they had a complaint they should voice it, and not do this [participate in criminal activities],” said Zuma.

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