‘We will not back down’

2019-07-24 15:00
Msunduzi administrator Sibusiso Sithole. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Msunduzi administrator Sibusiso Sithole. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

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They won’t scare me off.

That’s the word from City administrator Sibusiso Sithole who said on Tuesday that “intimidation tactics” will not deter him from his mission to get the City back on its feet.

This comes after an explosive device, believed to be a thunderflash, was detonated outside the council chamber on Monday, while Sithole was presenting a confidential turnaround strategy for the City to councillors.

He told The Witness that he had just finished presenting his report and was getting feedback from councillors when “the loud bang” went off outside the council chamber.

The explosion caused panic among councillors and employees at the City Hall, who feared for their lives.

Also read:‘New Dawn’ under fire

Employees had to be evacuated from the building and police were called to the scene.

Sithole said: “We still have to table the report for council’s adoption at the end of the month. The meeting was merely to make sure that when I table the report the councillors are not seeing it for the first time.”

He called for a thorough investigation into the incident, adding that although he did not want to speculate, there were bound to be “calculated tactics” from certain individuals to take the municipality back.

“I would be foolish not to think that these things are bound to happen ... But the most important thing is that the majority of people in Pietermaritzburg share the view that we must clean up the city and make it a capital city that is exemplary, and we will forge ahead with that mission.

“No amount of intimidation or whatever scare tactics are going to make us depart from that mission.”

Earlier this month, Sithole told council that following his appointment as administrator, he had been receiving death threats.

After the explosion, Sithole said, security measures at the City Hall would need to be strengthened to detect risks and suspicious behaviour.

“We need to be on high alert. This incident shows that we are bound to have similar happenings in abundance.”

Sithole said from his assessment, after interviewing all the stakeholders, including councillors, there was instability and political interference within Msunduzi.

“My stance is that the environment at the City Hall is definitely not stable. It’s a politically volatile climate.”

Meanwhile, a police source confirmed that prior to the blast, an official in the municipality had received a call for assistance in the mayor’s parlour.

According to the source, the official said there were about 25 people verbally attacking the mayor’s personal assistant.

“He said he asked them to leave the building and they refused and said they won’t leave until they see the mayor.”

The official left the mayor’s parlour, and minutes later he received another call alerting him that there were two other people asking to see the municipal manager or administrator.

The official told police that after that call, he heard a loud noise inside the building.

Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo, who was attending a meeting in Durban when the incident happened, said: “If we don’t improve security, we’re going to be in trouble.”

Njilo said he did not have the full details of what happened and was still waiting for the police to investigate. “At the moment we are still busy seeking answers,” he said.

A security guard at the City Hall admitted that the sensors at the main door were dysfunctional.

While the police told The Witness on Monday that no case was opened following the explosion, KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said a case of discharging fireworks in the building was being investigated. “The Explosives Unit police officers were summoned to the scene and it was established that it was fireworks,” said Gwala.


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