Violent protest breaks out in eNdumeni over municipal manager’s suspension

2013-05-07 00:00

RESIDENTS of Sibongile township in Dundee burnt tyres and blockaded the township’s main road with rocks and bottles on Sunday night, protesting the suspension of eNdumeni municipal manager Thabani Biyela last month.

The protest action, which lasted until yesterday morning, followed the torching of the acting municipal manager’s office last week.

Residents who spoke to The Witness yesterday said they wanted Biyela, who was suspended over suspicions about his qualifications, to be reinstated.

One, who would not be named, said they had protested last month and handed a memorandum to a Co-operative Governance Department official, demanding a response within seven days. However, they had not received any communication.

“We are trying to get attention from senior government officials to intervene in eNdumeni because we want corrupt councillors and municipal officials to be suspended and investigated,” the man said.

“We know that the municipal manager was suspended because he refused to authorise a R21 million road construction tender and we want him reinstated,” he said.

eNdumeni council speaker Sduduzo Mdluli said the protest started on Sunday night. A tuckshop was looted.

He said the decision to suspend Biyela would stand until the outcome of a disciplinary hearing.

“We took a lawful decision and we will stand by it. We cannot be threatened by people who are using the youth to fulfil their desires,” said Mdluli.

He said they the municipality was working with the police to address the situation.

Biyela alleged that the decision to suspend him was based on the fact that he had refused to authorise a R21 million tender that a subordinate had signed on his behalf while he was away.

“Now they are bringing up charges that I lied during the interview that I had claimed that I had a master’s degree,” he said.

Biyela said his curriculum vitae indicated that he was currently studying towards a master’s, but this was not raised during his interview for the job.

He added that even without a master’s degree, he exceeded the requirements advertised for the position.

Biyela alleged that the councillors behind his suspension stood to benefit from the tender that he had refused to sign because of irregularities.

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