MP changes his story

2017-10-18 13:45
MP Mervyn Dirks claims he has settled the outstanding debt he owed Msunduzi Municipality for municipal rates and services rendered to his property in Woodlands.

MP Mervyn Dirks claims he has settled the outstanding debt he owed Msunduzi Municipality for municipal rates and services rendered to his property in Woodlands. (Ian Carbutt)

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Former Msunduzi deputy mayor MP Mervyn Dirks has done an about-turn on the circumstances that led to him owing R60 000 to Msunduzi.

The Witness published an article last month revealing that current MP Dirks owed more than R60 000 to the municipality for rates and municipal services at his Woodlands property.

At that time Dirks said he had “inherited” most of the debt when he took the property over from his late mother. But a search on the deeds registry records revealed that Dirks owned one property in the province, which he took transfer of in 2007.

The deeds registry, which is a public record, showed that the Magnolia Road property was acquired by Dirks from a Joseph and Margaret Issacs “in terms of a sale agreement” dated August 25, 2005.

In a text message responding to questions sent by The Witness on Tuesday, Dirks backtracked on his claim that he had inherited the house, saying he bought the house but his mother lived in it and had not kept up to date with payments. He added that he had since settled his outstanding debt with Msunduzi Municipality last month.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said she would check whether the debt had been settled and respond to queries once she received clarity.

When The Witness visited the house on Tuesday, it was painted in bright yellow and appeared to be one of the biggest houses in the area.

Following last month’s article, residents questioned how Dirks managed to get a rates clearance certificate after he claimed he inherited the property and debt at that time.

“Other citizens have to pay an excessive amount to the rates account even when the account is up to date. Any balance tends to then evaporate with no answers to be had from anyone once the rates clearance has been issued,” said one resident.

Another said that they believe no councillor, including members of Parliament, is meant to have any amount outstanding for rates and services according to the Municipal Systems Act.

“Furthermore, any councillor’s debt to the municipality has to be recorded in the municipality’s annual financial statements and will be adversely reported upon by the Auditor-General.

“In his previous role as deputy mayor, Mr Dirks will be fully aware of this,” said Roger Bowyer, a Pietermaritzburg resident.

Agreeing with the sentiments already mentioned by others in the previous article, Bowyer said that Dirks does not set a good example of how members of Parliament should conduct themselves.

“I wonder how many other MPs are in the same boat with their municipality. Without belabouring the point, it can be seen that this links up with The Witness’ other front-page story and the reference made by Dr Zweli Mkhize to the total lack of management of Msunduzi Municipality and the poor conduct of its business,” he said.

The municipal account for Dirks’ property in Magnolia Road in Woodlands was leaked to The Witness last month and it revealed that almost R50 000 of his debt owed has been in the red for over 90 days, with the balance having accumulated since then.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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