Weekly News Wrap

PHOTO: Ian Carbutt Members of the Pietermaritzburg Fire Department control a fire at Atlas Used Spares in Manning Avenue.
PHOTO: Ian Carbutt Members of the Pietermaritzburg Fire Department control a fire at Atlas Used Spares in Manning Avenue.

ANC and DA dominate wards in Msunduzi

THE 2016 local government election story in Msunduzi was one of holding onto power and minor victories. Overall, the ANC won 66,09% of the votes and has 52 seats, which include 23 PR and 29 ward councillors. The DA showed some improvement, retaining all its wards and snatching one ward from the ANC. The DA continued its dominance in the northern suburbs. Overall, it obtained 19,23% of the votes, and has 15 seats in council.

The IFP showed slight improvement, taking 6,65% of the votes compared to five percent in 2011. Although the party has support in wards 1, 7, 8 and 39, it did not win a single ward and had to settle for five PR seats in the council. The EFF got 4,1% of the overall votes and will have three PR seats in the council.

Eskom workers join union strike

NATIONAL Union of Mineworkers members blockaded the entrance to Eskom’s Mkondeni station last week, as they joined the union’s nationwide strike over wages. The workers vowed to continue protesting outside the utility’s station until their demands were met. Eskom national spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said the utility had contingency measures in place and would activate those if required. “Our priority is the safety of our staff, contractors and visitors, as well as our properties. Negotiations between Eskom and its unions are ongoing,” he said.

Women steal from ill patients

TWO women have allegedly been stealing from vulnerable and ill patients at hospitals in Pietermaritzburg and Howick dressed in “Muslim attire” from head to toe after allegedly befriended groggy patients or pretended to be relatives before stealing their personal belongings. There have been two reports on incidents of theft from patients at St Anne’s and Medi-Clinic Hospital in Howick. Police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the police were aware of the incidents and urged patients and the community to be on high alert.

“People must not allow these women to take advantage of them,” Ngobese said.

Former ward councillors to be paid R2m while finding other jobs

GOLDEN handshakes for Msunduzi councillors who have not cracked the nod to be included in the new council will cost taxpayers close to R2 million. The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has confirmed it has budgeted R309 million as a once-off gratuity payment to non-returning councillors.

The payment is based on a calculation of three months of the last salary they earned. In Msunduzi, 22 of the 37 ward councillors who had served in the previous term will not see another five years in office.

Fire guts scrapyard

A VELD fire left a local scrapyard counting its losses on Monday after 13 scrap cars were gutted by fire. Responding quickly, fire fighters managed to douse the fire before it spread further. Atlas Used Spares owner Iqram Faruk said in addition to 13 cars, some equipment and a storage container were also damaged by the fire.

Scrapyard manager Mohammed Shaik said the fire had started at a distance before a strong wind fanned it towards the scrapyard’s fence.

UKZN strikes continue

STUDENTS continued to gather at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s PMB campus last week and on Monday morning disrupting lectures. Police put a swift end to swelling protests which turned violent last Thursday evening. The Public Order Policing Unit, guards from a private security company contracted by UKZN and the university’s own Risk Management Services (RMS) responded promptly, confronting the students, who began hurling rocks at police vehicles. The police retaliated with stun grenades and tear gas, sending the students retreating into their residences. UKZN subsequently closed the campus on Monday and Tuesday and were set to reopen today.

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