Officials trash B&Bs

2012-01-10 00:00

UMTSHEZI Municipal officials and their friends allegedly trashed two Ballito guest houses and racked up thousands of rand in unpaid bills and damage to property during a four-day stay last month.

A municipal delegation, which included Mayor Bongani Dlamini (ANC) and Deputy Mayor Bhekithemba Dlamini (NFP), were in Ballito for the annual KwaZulu-Natal Local Government Association (Kwanaloga) games.

The officials were booked in The Guesthouse and Dolphin Rock Guesthouse. Dolphin Rock was allegedly left with unpaid bills and damage to property of R26 000 and The Guesthouse reportedly had over R5 000 in unpaid bills.

Most of the bills were racked up after more people arrived than were stated in the initial agreement with the guesthouses concerned.

Dolphin Rock was supposed to have four guests, but eight people arrived and the number ballooned to 14 the following morning, while The Guesthouse was supposed to have six guests, which mushroomed to 10 instead.

Austen Smith, manager of The Guesthouse, said they experienced problems with some of the “guests” from the moment they checked in.

They were supposed to arrive at 5 pm but they arrived at 10.30 pm instead. “According to my booking, I would have the mayor, the deputy mayor and the bodyguards [two each] bringing the total of people to six.” He alleged that a councillor — whose name is known to The Witness — changed everything.

She demanded that the mayor and the deputy mayor be put in different residences as they could not stay together because they were from different political parties.

The councillor could not be reached for comment last night.

Repeated calls to the mayor and his deputy were also not answered.

Smith alleged that there were about 20 people milling about in the car park in nine cars with various hangers-on, all demanding dinner and bar facilities.

“When we told them the booking made was on a bed and breakfast basis, the ‘crowd’ allegedly became ‘very restless and angry’”.

When he told the councillor that he could only accommodate those who were booked in advance, chaos broke out. Smith alleged members of the group became abusive.

“I was threatened and pushed about, and so was one of my guests … at this point I called security and the SAPS.”

“My complaint is not only about the cost of extras, but more to the point it’s about the disorganisation, disruptive and racist language and behaviour, verbal threats of physical violence and the arrival of over 20 ‘guests’ demanding accommodation when only 10 booked [in total].” Smith is frustrated that there appears to be little or no action from the municipality itself.

He e-mailed a report to the municipal manager about the debacle on December 13, but claims that except for a lot of promises and passing of the buck, nothing had happened.

The municipality has an obligation to bring its members to account and make them pay, he said.

Eleanor Du Plooy of the Dolphin Rock said four guests had booked, but in the morning there were ten extra guests that were sneaked in through the night. She was told that the extra guests would be paid for, but only one had paid.

Du Plooy claimed the guests broke a bed and a mirror. “To them, it was all a big joke.” Both guesthouses threatened to take legal action against the municipality if it failed to settle the extra costs.

Hansraj Chotoo, Umtshezi’s acting municipal manager, said they were aware of the complaints and that these were being investigated.

However, he maintained that the guesthouses were responsible for the extra cost incurred.

“The municipality is only responsible to pay the cost of the people that were authorised by it to be there. It cannot pay for the extra people that were there illegally.”

The guesthouses should have stuck to the agreement they had made with the municipality, he said. When asked about the damages, Chotoo said he would not get involved in that.

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