KZN municipal manager says threatening SMS stems from 'internal matter'

SA police. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)
SA police. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

A KwaZulu-Natal municipal manager who received an SMS threatening her life believes that it is linked to "an internal matter" that she is currently involved in.

Richmond municipal manager Bongiwe Mnikathi told News24 on Wednesday afternoon that she received the text message from an unknown number on Friday.

"I don't suspect anyone at the moment, but I believe that it has to do with the municipality's internal affairs," she said.

Mnikathi said she opened a case at the Alexandra Road police station in Pietermaritzburg soon after receiving the SMS.

"You listen, what do you think you are? It seems you will follow Sithole.

"See what happens if you stand in my way. Be warned, damn woman," parts of the message read.

'It has never gone this far'

The message, written in isiZulu, further warned Mnikathi that she might not live to see October 8.

"It would help us get along if you didn't interfere with the work on Phase 3 woman. You must say if you have a problem because it is clear that you do have a problem. We know your movements and your family will lose you. So just leave us alone. Watch your step," reads the message.

Mnikathi said it was the first time she received such a message since taking over from Sibusiso Sithole who was shot dead in March last year.

"I've taken decisions before that some were not comfortable with, but it has never gone this far," she said.

She said the Phase 3 project mentioned in the SMS was advertised by an official "who doesn't have authority to do so".

Mnikathi said the tender was for the upgrade of a road in Richmond. Applications closed on Friday.

Still going to work

She said the municipality's officials had been at loggerheads over the advertisement of the tender and some want it to be re-advertised.

Mnikathi said she was on suspension when the tender was advertised.

She was suspended three months ago after she was accused of maladministration and corruption.

Mnikathi was, however, granted an interim high court order in July that overturned her suspension.

"When I came back to work I found that the tender had been advertised by an official who doesn't have authority to do so. Let's say the evaluation committee sits, who will approve the recommendations they will make since it was not advertised by someone with authority? Should I endorse something I don't know about?" she asked.

She said since getting the message, she has not stopped going to work but has arranged her own private security.

'You only die once'

Mnikathi did not want to reveal more details for "security reasons".

"The SMS says they know my movements hence I don't want to reveal more details," she said adding that she had just come from work.

She said she did not take the threats lightly.

"I'm really scared because you only die once," she said.

She said the police had been in contact with her and had kept her updated on the matter.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele confirmed that police were investigating a case of intimidation.

Tender re-advertised

Richmond municipality spokesperson Sibonelo Ndlovu said he was not at work and referred News24 to council speaker Samora Ndlovu.

Ndlovu said it was not the first time the tender had been advertised.

"This is a re-advertisement as there was also a problem when it was first advertised. The person who authorised the re-advertisement was authorised by the council," said Ndlovu.

He said the council only became aware of the threats received by Mnikathi after seeing media reports.

"She never approached us to inform us about the threats she received," he said.

He said he could not comment on what steps would be taken next to resolve the issue of the tender.

"I'm not allowed to speak about that, the municipality's administration deals with such matters," said Ndlovu.

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