The community is calling for high-ranking municipal officials who were implicated in acts of fraud, nepotism and maladministration, following an investigation that was conducted at the municipality, to be suspended.
COMMUNITY members are manning the entrance of Umsobomvu Local Municipality in Colesberg and said on Thursday that they will prevent anyone from entering the premises, unless council is dissolved within the next seven days.
They indicated that high-ranking municipal officials who were implicated in acts of fraud, nepotism and maladministration, following an investigation that was conducted at the municipality, to be suspended and that any benefits that they unduly received be recouped.
Community members are angry that, to date, no action has been taken against the implicated officials despite the investigation report recommending that disciplinary action should follow, while a criminal case has been opened by the EFF.
“It appears as if they are being protected. We will shut down the municipality until someone listens. No one will be allowed inside until the council is placed under administration,” the community members said.
SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) regional secretary Peter Demas added that a local labour forum that was held this week had collapsed.
“Both Samwu and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) were of the opinion that the meeting could not be attended by officials who were implicated in the investigation report. They should have been suspended a long time ago. They indicated that they were not given an opportunity to present their side of the case, although it clearly states in the report that they were interviewed by the investigation team,” said Demas.
“Unions cannot negotiate terms with the employer if they are implicated in acts of maladministration and corruption and escape prosecution while immediate action is taken against workers who overstep the line.”
Demas said that they would apply for a strike certificate on May 21.
“Our members want Samwu to open criminal cases against the implicated officials and report them to the Special Investigations Unit and the public protector.
“The MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) and the premier must place the municipality under administration.”
Demas added that their members were advised to evacuate the Umsobomvu Municipality after it was forcefully closed by community members on Thursday, in the interests of their safety.
He said that the municipal manager had been placed on sick leave since the investigation report was released last month. “We were informed that his sick leave has been extended until the end of May.”
The Premier’s Office referred media enquiries to the municipality while Coghsta did not respond to media enquiries.
The spokesperson for Umsobomvu Municipality, Siyabulelo Phololo, explained that he was not in a position to discuss the nature of the municipal manager’s illness.
“No report was released to the municipality hence I won’t be able to confirm the perception that it was released,” Phololo added. “Coghsta and the Office of the Premier commissioned an investigation and so far there is no report that was presented to the municipality. Therefore, how can we suspend anyone or implement findings that we are not aware of?”
He warned that no community member was allowed to shut down the municipality.
“The main office is closed, so services rendered there are affected. We have already informed the community through our social media platforms regarding the closure of our offices.”
Phololo added that the visit of the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, to Colesberg on Thursday, to raise awareness on human trafficking, was interrupted during the briefing session due to the protest action.
Zulu held a fun walk and was accompanied by the mayor during her visit.
Northern Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi said that no acts of violence were reported after a group of people picketed outside the municipal offices in Colesberg.
“The group has since dispersed,” said Mooi.