Municipality in the spotlight – again

2011-11-16 14:12

The beleaguered Ngqushwa Local Municipality in Eastern Cape has once again been thrust into the spotlight after one of its councillors was convicted of stock theft this week.

Ngqushwa PR councillor Mlungisi Boqwana was on Monday sentenced to five years in prison or to pay a R10 000 fine after he was found guilty at the town’s magistrates court.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson for the region, Tsepo Ndwalaza, confirmed the sentence but could not provide specifics of the charges against Boqwana.
News of his conviction drew surprise from Ngqushwa Mayor Solomzi Ndwayana, who said: “I wasn’t aware of this, and I’m actually in Port Elizabeth at the moment.

“This is new for our council and we would have to investigate what the way forward would be.”

The conviction would mean Boqwana, in his capacity of councillor, has brought the council into disrepute, and Ndwayana said the council, led by the Office of the Speaker, would investigate and further action.

Boqwana himself also confirmed his brush with the law, saying the incident happened before he was elected to council.

“This happened in 2009 and I have been going to court for this matter for a while,” he said refusing to speak further.

He however admitted the case was not his first brush with the law, revealing an earlier arrest, which led to a short stint at St Albans Prison, near Port Elizabeth, in 1999.

Ngqushwa is no stranger to controversy within its council this year. Boqwana’s conviction follows another court case, involving in-fighting, last month 12 ruling party councillors, plus the only opposition councillor, passed a vote of no confidence against its executive, including the mayor and speaker.

The Bhisho High Court found the action to be unlawful, saying the meeting was without proper status of a council meeting. The 12 councillors have since been served with suspension letters by the party’s provincial bosses.

Ngqushwa was one of eight ANC sub-regions, whose leadership took to the courts to challenge processes followed in deciding candidate councillors for the May 18 local government elections.

Swearing-in of the current council saw violence as residents and ANC members took to the streets, forcing a change of venue for the ceremony.

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