‘I’ve been humiliated’ says Richmond MM

2018-11-08 15:28
Richmond municipal Manager Bongiwe Mnikathi.

Richmond municipal Manager Bongiwe Mnikathi. (Vryheid Herald )

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Embattled Richmond municipal manager Bongiwe Mnikathi on Wednesday told how she fears for her life after threats against her. 

In an interview with The Witness, Mnikathi told of the intimidation she has had to endure since joining the municipality towards the end of last year.

Mnikathi is currently on special leave after being advised by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) that her life was in danger.

The department presented a State Security Agency report to council last week and recommended she take a special leave, Mnikathi said.

“I had to respect Cogta’s decision because of the political climate in Richmond. I replaced someone [former municipal manager, Sibusiso Sithole] who was shot and killed near the local police station,” she said.

Last month Mnikathi opened a case after she received a threatening SMS.

However, Mnikathi said it all started long before that.

“Four months after I joined the municipality, workers embarked on an illegal strike and they were carrying a coffin which had my name written on it. A coffin means someone is going to die. A cabinet visit to Richmond had to be cancelled due to that strike.

“Since I joined the municipality, I have been humiliated on several occasions and I have been denied access to my office many times ... This is very painful,” she said.

She said the Pietermaritzburg high court has ruled in her favour on three occasions.

Mnikathi was suspended in July facing allegations of maladministration, manipulation of supply chain management processes, intimidation of staff, failure to attend public and council meetings without valid reason and bringing the municipality to near collapse.

She was again suspended on fresh allegations including that she had bought alcohol worth R20 000 with council funds.

The second suspension came after a Pietermaritzburg high court interim order had overturned her initial suspension.

She was then suspended once again and went to court to overturn that suspension too.

Mnikathi denied all the allegations levelled against her.

“The R20 000 they are talking was used to buy Christmas vouchers for destitute families identified by ward councillors from all the seven wards. That food was distributed by the same councillors who are today claiming that the money was used to buy alcohol.

“I do not know why they are misleading the public.

“I do not know why the council is complaining about the quality of the food when the food was distributed in December last year. Why are they only complaining about it now? The food was bought from a reputable retail shop and we chose reputable brands,” she said.

Mnikathi said the saga had put her under a lot of strain.

She said it was disturbing that some community members and a councillor were posting messages on social networks celebrating that she had taken special leave.

“Are they celebrating that my life is in danger?”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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