Scared councillors want protection

2012-09-15 16:08

Nearly 100 local councillors have died in South Africa since March last year, a significant number of them killed in politically motivated attacks or service delivery-linked protests.

And, as councillors become increasingly frightened and worried, ratepayers may soon have to fork out for bodyguards, risk cover and home security for all of South Africa’s mayors.

That’s if recommendations by the SA Local Government Association (Salga) are adopted ­by the Treasury.

Salga held a national conference in Midrand this week, tabling a number of proposals it hopes will help or change municipalities for the better.

Salga chief executive Xolile George told City Press that 97 councillors had died since March last year.

George said some had died of unavoidable natural causes or in car crashes.

But he said councillors lived in fear of attacks by angry communities directing their frustration about service delivery failures at their local representatives.

The fear of politically motivated attacks was also very real for councillors, he said.

Neither George nor the Independent Electoral Commission were able to give exact figures of how many of the 97 councillors died violently.

“Most of our councillors are vulnerable to attacks from community protesters who don’t care about the lives of
the councillors or their families,” said George.

“Protesters burn down homes and blame councillors for not delivering on their promises. But when you ask protesters what they are complaining about, they point to electricity meters which, in that area, is a responsibility of Eskom, not the council.”

George said the proposed risk cover for councillors would cost just more than R25 for each councillor, about R250 000 a month in insurance premiums, to protect the lives and properties of all the country’s 10 055 councillors.

Salga chairperson Thabo Manyoni appealed to President Jacob Zuma, who attended part of the conference
this week, to expedite the policy on risk cover for councillors.

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