Office torched in troubled town

2013-05-01 00:00

POWER struggles at Endumeni Municipality near Dundee exploded on Monday night when the offices of the acting municipal manager were set alight.

The Democratic Alliance and Endumeni Mayor Thulani Mahaye said the incident could be related to tensions in the community arising from the suspension of municipal manager Thabani Biyela, who is accused of falsifying his qualifications.

The torched office belongs to Ian Grisdale, chief financial officer and the acting municipal manager.

Mahaye said he was told of the damage yesterday morning. He said there would be a meeting last night to assess and quantify the damage.

“I believe that the current situation was related to the ongoing dispute in the community over the municipal manager.

“There are some people who are upset about the fact that he was suspended and there were others who were calling for a forensic investigation to be conducted … I do not want to lie; that issue has caused a lot of turmoil in the community.”

Mahaye said the offices were in town and at the time there were no disturbances that could have led to the fire.

“It is clear that someone had set out to burn the offices as we found containers [to carry fuel] outside it,” he said.

Mahaye said those responsible would be found.

“We cannot allow such a situation. The matter has been handed over to the authorities and … they will be dealing with it.”

The council is run by a coalition of the ANC and NFP.

The DA said there should be an investigation into what it called the petrol- bombing of the office.

“The DA strongly condemns this act of arson. After 19 years of democracy this is not the way politics in our country should be played out,” said the party in a statement.

Biyela, speaking from Durban yesterday, said he heard the offices had been burnt down but was unaware of the details. “I was aware that the youth were, however, unhappy with my suspension and there were riots in townships.”

Vernon Mchunu, spokesperson for the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said they were still waiting for a letter from the municipality officially informing them of the incident.

“We cannot comment on something we heard on the news.”

The police said a case of arson was opened in Dundee. No arrests have been made.

Attempts to get comment from the ANC in the region were unsuccessful.


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