Storm: ‘councillor stole aid’

2009-01-15 00:00

Storm victims from Tembalihle and Tamboville near Eastwood marched to the office of their ward councillor yesterday, calling for him to be sacked and alleging that he gave disaster aid to his friends, a claim he vehemently denies.

More than 80 marchers accused councillor Mzwakhe Dladla of “lying” to them and of “favouritism”.

According to residents, Dladla was supposed to give disaster relief supplied by the Msunduzi Municipality and the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) in the form of food parcels to people who lost their food during the storm.

The residents allege that Dladla kept some of the food parcels for himself, gave some to his friends and was allegedly seen stuffing his car with the parcels.

They demanded that Dladla, who was in his office, address them. The police had to be called to calm the angry crowd and to monitor the situation.

The crowd chanted messages saying they will not vote in this year’s general elections because “we will be voting for hunger again”. They handed over a memorandum outlining their demands, which ranged from the issue of the food parcels to demands for low-cost housing.

A policeman told the crowd Dladla would respond to their demands on Monday afternoon in a meeting to be held at the Tembalihle Community Hall.

Tembalihle resident Precious Gumede said that after the storm Dladla invited those who lost food to write down their names so they could be given food parcels. But she said the distribution of the food parcels favoured people aligned to the councillor.

“There are adults and children with Aids that have to take ARVs on a daily basis, but could not because their food was destroyed by the storm. The councillor omitted them and chose to keep the food for himself and his friends,” said Lindiwe Zondi.

Thandi Zungu alleged that Dladla has not delivered to the community since becoming ward councillor in 2006. Zungu said the councillor caters for the people he likes and disregards the other poor people.

Judy Maharaj, a Cinderella Park resident and the area’s civic association secretary, told The Witness that the councillor discriminates against coloured people.

“We don’t have issues against black people, but we are tired of being sidelined … The councillor’s party promised a better life for all and they must stick to that if they want our votes,” said Maharaj.

Dladla told The Witness there was a third force behind the march and claimed that it was politically motivated. He said 34 people had written their names as having lost their food during the storms and the food parcels were distributed to them.

He said the demand for food parcels by residents who were not on the list could have started after they saw the food parcels being distributed by Sassa, which were better than those given out by the municipality.

He denied taking parcels for himself and his friends, saying that residents could have reached that conclusion after seeing him using his car to distribute the food parcels to the storm victims.

“I do not discriminate and sideline members of the community. It’s the first time I hear of this. I have done a lot of things for my ward for all races,” said Dladla.

Dladla declined to comment when asked about the marchers’ call for him to resign.

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