Officials in flats row

2013-10-04 00:00

A RESPECTED Durban academic has accused councillors living in city-owned flats of behaving unethical and using security concerns to the detriment of poor families.

Eleven councillors from the eThekwini Municipality have been living in Kenneth Gardens in Umbilo and Merloth Gardens in Morningside after claiming that their lives were threatened in their constituencies.

They claim that the two-and-a-half bedroom council apartment building is constantly patrolled by police and has CCTV cameras.

They pay R1 020 a month for the apartments.

ANC councillors Nana Cele, Nokuthula Yolenda Young, Mduduzi Bayeni, Nompumelelo Mabaso, Fanie Mabuza and the IFP’s Mduduzi Nkosi, live in Kenneth Gardens. ANC councillors Samuel Kikine, Mpume Chamane, Mkhipheni Ngiba, and Mathombi Mnyandu live at Merloth Gardens.

The councillors earn more than R30 000 a month.

Professor Monique Marks, who heads a research and outreach project in Kenneth Gardens, which is described as a sub-economic housing estate, said the developments did not have CCTV cameras.

“I do not know how many councillors live in the council flats but it’s unacceptable as these flats were built for low-income earners, not as a place for safety for those who can afford to pay market-related bonds and rentals,” she said.

Marks said the municipality needed to maintain the council flats that were in a state of neglect and degeneration.

This, she said, is a pity as Kenneth Gardens is structurally sound, well located and has beautiful grounds.

“It is a real asset that the municipality should treasure. It houses a diverse, resilient and vibrant community. There is expectedly a high demand for flats in the Kenneth Gardens estate, and it is important therefore that the mechanisms for allocating units be transparent and equitable.”

DA eThekwini caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango said the councillors had been employed by the council as public representatives and they automatically forfeited their right to use council resources.

“The flats were intended for low-income earners who earn between R3 000 and R5 000 per month. These people are low earners and cannot get bonds,” he said.

Municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said several councillors were allocated council flats due to security reasons.

He said the municipality could not sit back while the lives of councillors were in danger.

“Safety of councillors is the municipality’s responsibility. It’s only a temporary arrangement for councillors to stay in the council units until the security situation changes in their wards. Safety of our councillors is paramount. Councillors were allocated to the municipal flats after a threat analysis conducted by the police’s Crime Intelligence Unit,” he said.

Mofokeng said some of the councillors had been chased away from their wards due to political upheavals.

Kenneth Gardens is the largest municipal housing estate in Durban.

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