Msunduzi ratepayers are paying more than R1 million monthly on the protection of more than a dozen ANC councillors and their properties by Royal Security’s guards.
While Msunduzi has its own guards on the municipal payroll, some of whom are attached to the security details of politicians such as Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla and his deputy Cllr Manilal Inderjit, sources at City Hall told Weekend Witness that more that 30 guards from the contractor, Royal Security, were assigned to councillors. Some accompanied them as bodyguards while others were stationed outside their homes which receive round-the-clock protection.
The figure is set to increase in the coming months as the security committee is believed to be considering new applications from the likes of Cllr Snothi Mhlongo whose home was recently petrol-bombed in Taylor’s Halt.
Eastwood’s Cllr Mike Amod and Cllr Siphamandla Madlala are also said to be amongst the applicants following alleged persistent death threats targeted at them.
While the need for security is believed to be genuine amongst the majority of the councillors others appear to want them just for status. “The political environment — specifically within the ANC in this region — has always been volatile from before the 2016 local local government elections so there’s always been tensions but when we returned from Nasrec the factionalism was out in the open and even the talks of unity did nothing to dampen the resentment amongst the comrades. There are still people holding grudges and they could be plotting their revenge,” said one of the councillors.
His colleague said some of the councillors also received threats disguised as community protests over the municipality’s service delivery failures. “There’s always that fear that we could see the re-emergence of the political violence because we also have people lining themselves up for positions ahead of next year’s elections and unfortunately councillors, especially those with a lot of influence, are always in the firing line.”
The DA and ACDP in Msunduzi have been very vocal on the City’s “runaway” expenditure on bodyguards.
However council meetings disintegrated into heated verbal exchanges whenever the opposition parties raised the issue.
The provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs previously called for councils to reduce their expenditure on bodyguards for politicians.
Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha did not respond to a question on the City’s expenditure on councillors’ security.
She said she could not disclose the exact figure of how many councillors had guards for “security reasons”.
“Roughly eight councilors are receiving security and this is based on threat assessment conducted by our security unit and presented to the security committee.”
She said a threat assessment was being conducted with regards to Cllr Mhlongo.