PMB city hall ‘being stolen bit by bit’

2014-01-17 00:00

THE issue of security at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall took a twist yesterday as councillor Bill Lambert raised concerns about the mayoral chain at an executive committee meeting.

“Mr Mayor, are you aware that there are missing links in your mayoral chain?” the DA’s Lambert asked, discussing the “cancer of theft” that has crept into the organisation.

Lambert also expressed horror at the theft of four angels from the antique Ormolu clock at the municipality’s Tatham Art Gallery. He said there was a crime spree ravaging the Msunduzi Municipality and the city hall was being stolen bit by bit from under their noses.

Mayor Chris Ndlela declined to discuss the matter when contacted by The Witness. He told Lambert at the meeting that investigations were under way by the relevant enforcement agents.

He said they needed to be careful about what was said as the media was present at the meeting and statements could end up defeating the ends of justice.

“Imagine links going missing on the mayoral chain and these … are solid gold,” Lambert said. He listed other items stolen from city hall, including 39 brass rods that had held the carpet in place on the city hall staircase. Lambert said a travel wallet was stolen from his office and a secretary had her handbag stolen from her office over the holidays.

Expensive copper sheeting was also stolen from the city hall roof last year, resulting in rain damage to the city’s Steinway concert grand piano valued at over R1,5 million. A fridge and computer were also stolen from the exco office.

Lambert raised the issue of thefts during a discussion on the renewal of the contract for the city’s short-term insurance.

Councillor Judith Lawrence, who sits on the city hall working group, recalled the mayor mentioning the missing links during an inspection of the Mayor’s parlour last year.

“There was a strong room for which the key was missing, so it was open to all and was being used as a general storage area,” she added.

Lawrence said she had later sent Ndlela an e-mail, suggesting the links may have been removed for the chain to better fit the mayor’s shoulders. It was possible that the links it may have been misplaced rather than stolen.

The mayoral chain is designed to be worn only with mayoral robes, which have tabs on the shoulders so that the chain hangs from the shoulders rather than from the neck. “Could it be that those links are still, in fact, in one of the leather cases in the strong room?” Lawrence asked in the e-mail to Ndlela.

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