Bodyguard bill shock

A file image of heavily protected Deputy President of the ANC Jacob Zuma arrives at the Johannesburg Supreme Court for his rape trial.
A file image of heavily protected Deputy President of the ANC Jacob Zuma arrives at the Johannesburg Supreme Court for his rape trial.

NEWS


If you were astounded by last week’s Weekend Witness story about the whopping bill Msunduzi pays each month for bodyguards, you may need to sit down to read this.

This week Weekend Witness can reveal that the City is spending more than R600 000 a month on security for just three people.

This amount covers 13 bodyguards and guns.

This is separate expenditure from the 58 bodyguards for the other 15 councillors we reported on last week following Msunduzi’s appearance before the portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs.

Richards Bay security company Take Law Contracting and Trading, bills Msunduzi R647 450 a month for 12 bodyguards at a cost of R40 150 each and the thirteenth guard costs R39 500. The amount also includes R11 700 for the firearms and R30 000 for a vehicle.

On Friday City spokesperson, Thobeka Mafumbatha, confirmed that Take Law has a contract to guard the City’s top leadership, the troika.

The troika consists of four members; Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla, his deputy Cllr Manilal Inderjit, Speaker Eunice Majola-Zondi and Chief Whip Vusi Ntshangase.

Mafumbatha said six of the Take Law guards are assigned to Thebolla while the remainder are for the other two troika members.

“Deputy Mayor (Inderjit) is guarded by internal staff,” said Mafumbatha.

She also confirmed that no security threat assessments were done by the police on either of the political office bearers.

The current legislation decrees that mayors, deputy mayors and speakers are entitled to two bodyguards each and the municipality may only deviate from this if that is part of the recommendations on the police assessment report.

Asked why Msunduzi decided to get Take Law guards for the protection of political office bearers when the City already has Royal Security providing security services to the municipality, Mafumbatha said “firearms were taken away from the municipality” and the company also provides guns.

Take Law was appointed on a month-to-month contract in November using the emergency procurement clause of Msunduzi’s supply chain management policy.

In 2018/19 Msunduzi spent R27,5 million on bodyguards for councillors who all belong to the ANC.

“The total monthly bill for bodyguards alone is more than R2 million if you add the amounts paid to Take Law and Royal Security as well as salaries for council-paid security officers who have been attached to politicians as their bodyguards and for protecting their homes.”
A source at the City Hall.


On Friday DA caucus leader, Cllr Sibongiseni Majola, and ACDP’s Cllr Rienus Niemand said the “exorbitant” expenditure on bodyguards is not only irregular but also criminal as it robs the citizens of Msunduzi of service delivery.

“We are in the middle of a civil war and it’s being funded by the ratepayers. The irony is that it’s just one party (ANC) involved in all of this but we as the ratepayers are just watching and footing the bill,” said Niemand.

He said Msunduzi is in financial distress and now at the point where it cannot even meet its fixed monthly financial obligations yet millions are spent on bodyguards without any council approval or the involvement of the police to ascertain if there are any genuine threats.

“In a democracy you are supposed to be protected by your people not from your people but not in this country,” said Niemand.


Majola said not only was the process not followed on the allocation of bodyguards, this expenditure is also in contravention of Msunduzi’s cost containment which says the troika members must only have a maximum of two guards per shift. “I don’t want to sound like I don’t care about their safety but if there must be a deviation from the regulation then let us see the police report with the necessary recommendations.

“I must add that the implementation of those recommendations is also subject to the availability of funds on the budget and right now we don’t have that money.”

Majola said the municipal manager, Madoda Khathide, and chief financial officer, Nelisiwe Ngcobo, have a legal duty to investigate any irregular expenditure and based on the findings, that amount must either be recovered or written off.

“This expense has not been disclosed to council and we haven’t even seen the contract on Take Law’s appointment ... The municipality is now forced to compromise on service delivery to fund this.”

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