Nelson Mandela Bay's mayor like Pablo Escobar, DA MP tells National Assembly

Mongameli Bobani. (Picture: File)
Mongameli Bobani. (Picture: File)

Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Mongameli Bobani was likened to infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar by the DA in a debate about violent crime in the National Assembly on Thursday.

The topic of the debate, called for by FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald, was violent crime and the government's responsibility to protect citizens and their property.

Groenewald said in terms of Section 205(3) of the Constitution it was a duty to protect the country's people and their property.

He added the opposite happened and the criminal justice system was actively undermined, saying corruption and poor management exacerbated it.

Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale said violent crimes were the worst human rights violator in the country, and the recently released crime statistics indicated an "untenable situation".

He said President Cyril Ramaphosa, therefore, said they must "put in every effort to halve violent crime in the next decade".

"High levels of crime - especially violent crime - poses a threat to democracy," Mathale said.

He added it instilled fear in South Africans of all backgrounds and prevented entrepreneurs and businesses from taking advantage of opportunities.

"Hence, we are determined to turn the tide."

DA MP Andrew Whitfield said: "For as long as corrupt criminal politicians remain in government and not in jail, we will not be able to turn the tide on violent crime in South Africa."

He said Nelson Mandela Bay was one of the best examples of the "complete failure of accountability leading to violent crime".

'Great Drain Heist'

"In December 2018, Mayor Bobani's coalition of corruption awarded a drain cleaning tender worth R21m which was awarded to a number of SMMEs in what has become known as the 'Great Drain Heist'.

"Since the award of that tender, more than 18 people have been killed in what the police have described as 'hits' which bear all the hallmarks of politically motivated killings."

Whitfield claimed many of those could be linked directly or indirectly to the "Great Drain Heist" or the "coalition of corruption".

"In a council meeting last week, with another motion of no confidence against Mayor Bobani looming, the council speaker and deputy mayor received death threats and the speaker's neighbour's house was riddled with bullets in an ominous threat to prevent the motion of no confidence proceeding. No arrests. No prosecutions. No accountability.

"The gangster state in Nelson Mandela Bay is real and it is terrifying. It is led by the Pablo Escobar of local government, Mongameli Bobani, whose reign of terror is propped up by the jug-wielding convicted criminal, the ANC's Andile Lungisa."

Whitfield said it was time to lock up corrupt politicians who have committed state-sanctioned violence against citizens.

EFF MP Thembi Msane said South Africa was an extremely violent society, where citizens were subjected to a "fear-ridden life".

She said this was an indication of the collapse of the state.

"South Africans, you are on your own," Msane added. "The war against crime is winnable. It requires a capable state, which we do not have right now."

Her "commander in chief", Julius Malema, and fellow EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi are expected to appear in court next week for allegedly assaulting a cop.

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