Cogta wants to cut bodyguards for mayors, speakers and councillors in KZN

2018-02-01 13:45
Cogta limits guards to only two per official.

Cogta limits guards to only two per official. (File)

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Mayors, speakers and councillors will no longer be entitled to an army of bodyguards and will be limited to no more than two — and only if the police declare their lives are at risk.

This follows allegations that many officials have an excessive number of bodyguards.

According to the provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department, at least 35 mayors in the province have no fewer than three bodyguards each. A total of 29 deputy mayors and 30 speakers have at least two, and 143 councillors from 19 municipalities have been assigned a total of 266 bodyguards to protect them.

A circular on personal security for councillors had some shifting uncomfortably in their seats when Msunduzi City manager Sizwe Hadebe presented it during a full council meeting on Wednesday.

Lack of due process

Cogta head of department Thando Tubane said the department recently discovered some councillors in the province were assigned bodyguards without following due process.

“In most cases a threat and risk analysis was not carried out by the SAPS, yet councillors were provided with security. This will be raised as a query by the auditor-general’s office,” he said.

“While it is fully understood that security measures need to be taken seriously, the department is also of the view that there are far too many security/bodyguards per councillor,” said Tubane.

He said Cogta was concerned about the negative financial impact and how it could affect service delivery as the guards came at a cost. He said the cost of each bodyguard ranged from R6 796 to R42 549 per month.

Threat and risk analysis

In future, municipalities would have to follow the new guidelines, which stipulate that bodyguards would only be provided after a threat and risk analysis has been done by the police.

Councils must also take into account the affordability of personal security.

If the police have confirmed that the councillor’s life is in danger then that councillor should be restricted to only one bodyguard per shift.

“Personal security for mayors and speakers, which should be based on a threat and risk analysis by the SAPS, is limited to a maximum of two bodyguards,” said Tubane.

He said personal security may be sourced internally, but if it is privately contracted then the council’s supply chain management requirements must be met. The contractor must also be registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority.

Oblivious to province's volatile situation

“The department is fully conscious of the current volatile situation in our province and the need to provide security in essential cases. However, security requirements must be balanced against the need to provide services to our communities and the question of affordability must therefore be carefully considered,” said Tubane.

IFP councillor Thinasonke Ntombela said he was aware that Msunduzi was paying for some councillors’ bodyguards but no detail was ever presented before the council.

“You can’t just have bodyguards without Exco or council approval,” said DA councillor Bill Lambert.

Hadebe did not respond to a questions on how many councillors had bodyguards, but said decisions on the personal security for councillors were made by the security committee.

“The circular from Cogta came after the council had approved the terms of reference for the security committee. We are still pondering how to align the two,” he said.

A source within the municipality said Mayor Themba Njilo, his deputy, Thobani Zuma, and Speaker Jabu Ngubo had no fewer than four bodyguards each. He said because of the alleged threats on their lives they also had guards stationed at their homes at all times, even when they were not there.

“The recent political killings left everyone tense and, with the provincial conference in April, no one knows what is going to happen,” he said.

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said she could not disclose the details of the councillors’ private security as that could expose them to security breaches.

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg

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