City ‘defying own laws’

2018-10-24 16:01
Ward councillor Ross Strachan inspects the proposed shooting range on Celtis Road.

Ward councillor Ross Strachan inspects the proposed shooting range on Celtis Road. (Ian Carbutt)

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Residents have once again raised concerns about the ongoing construction of a shooting range by Msunduzi Municipality along Celtis Road, near Boughton, without proper protocol being followed.

In December last year, The Witness reported that concerned residents had raised questions about how it was possible that a shooting range was under construction in their neighbourhood without their knowledge or input.

The City confirmed that it was building the range to train its officers instead of using private facilities.

Residents say they were never consulted about the new shooting range, which is close to the Prestbury residential area and Linpark High School, and has its border close to the Hilton residential area.

Prestbury ward councillor Ross Strachan said there were numerous meetings last year, including a public meeting with residents. He said it was resolved that a legal opinion would be presented to the ward committee and then the public, from the municipality’s community services and public safety department, regarding the process followed.

He said it was also resolved that all work on site would be placed on hold until this legal opinion was presented to the ward committee, but no legal opinion has been presented to date.

“It was then brought to my attention that contractors were working on site early this year. I then contacted the municipality to inform them that work had commenced without following protocol. This was acknowledged and work seemed to have stopped,” said Strachan.

He said in the last few weeks he received a number of concerns from residents regarding the fact that work was commencing on the site, and after his personal investigation, this was indeed true.

“I have communicated my deepest objections and disappointment in the manner in which this project has undermined the community and in particular myself as the ward councillor.”

Strachan said in a recent finance portfolio meeting a status report was presented by the project champion, and in the report it was stated that there was no need for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and that the public participation process was “partially” covered.

“The process in applying to establish a shooting range is highly technical and needs to be complied with through SAPS requirements. One of the critical first steps when starting this process is to go through the local SAPS police station and through the licensing department at that local facility, which would be Prestbury SAPS. This, according the management at the station, was not done, and there has been no communication.

“I, as the councillor, am extremely concerned at the way the municipality has gone about their business once again, there seems to be a total disregard of the community and most importantly the law.

“How can we expect our people to trust this municipality if they cannot abide by their own laws?” asked Strachan.

Ntobeko Ngcobo, acting spokesperson for Msunduzi Municipality, could not be reached by phone and did not respond to text messages or an e-mail sent to her yesterday.

However, City spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha told The Witness last year that the multi-disciplinary facility, which includes an indoor shooting range and outdoor obstacle courses, would “not in any way be interfering with the community”.

“There will be maximum compliance and highly trained officials have been sourced to ensure this,” said Mafumbatha.

She said the municipality was spending money on outsourcing training for about 250 officers as Pietermaritzburg did not have its own facilities. She said the shooting range will be available to all professional accredited bodies to book and could also be used by both internal and external groups as a team building area.

Read more on:    msunduzi

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