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Municipal director’s car torched

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There were a handful of workers who were still picketing in support of the suspended municipal manager

ATTACK: The vehicle of a technical director at the Phokwane municipality was set alight outside his house in Hartswater. Picture: Supplied

A BMW sedan belonging to a director at Phokwane Municipality was torched outside his residence in Hartswater.

Police spokesperson, Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba, said yesterday that a case of malicious damage to property was being investigated. “The cause of the fire has not yet been established and no arrests have been made yet.”

The technical director at Phokwane Municipality, Richard Sengani, indicated that the incident took place shortly after the police had warned the Phokwane mayor and himself that they could be targeted following a meeting where council took a decision to suspend the municipal manager last week.

“I was awoken by neighbours on Tuesday morning, at around 1am, who advised me that my car that was parked outside had been set alight. I will be taking long leave as I do not feel safe after what happened. I have left the investigation in the hands of the police,” said Sengani yesterday.

He explained that he had merely read out a letter at the council meeting from Treasury, which had refused to approve the transfer of rolled-over funds to Phokwane Municipality.

“I am not involved in the awarding of any tenders as this process goes through the municipal manager and supply chain management, although I am a member of the adjudication committee to oversee the expenditure on projects.”

Sengani stated that there were a handful of workers who were still picketing in support of the suspended municipal manager.

“Council never followed the proper procedures when the municipal manager was first suspended. She was therefore allowed to return and was provided seven days in which to advise council why she should not be suspended. Based on her response and the charges relating to the awarding of an increase that was not approved by council, she was placed on suspension during the council meeting last week, pending an investigation.”

Workers whom the municipality had obtained interdicts against during strike action earlier this year, denied any involvement in setting the vehicle alight.

“They are trying to lay the blame on us so that we can be arrested, but we have nothing to do with it,” the workers said.

The workers are also objecting to the suspension of the Phokwane municipal manager last week.

Community members in Hartswater, Jan Kempdorp and Pampierstad are meanwhile threatening to stage another shutdown should the Phokwane Speaker and mayor not be removed.

Colluding

They believed that the speaker and mayor were colluding with the opposition to remove the municipal manager.

“The ANC must intervene,” they said.

The Northern Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Risimati Peter Shivuri, has meanwhile appealed to the community of Hartswater and surrounding areas to assist the police with the investigation.

“Anyone with information that could assist in the police investigation is requested to contact the investigating officer, Constable Thabiso Mosalanyane, on 073 407 7631 or 053 474 1438.”

ANC deputy provincial secretary, Maruping Lekwene, condemned the destruction of property.

“We call on law enforcement agencies to speedily investigate the matter and ensure that those who were involved are brought to book,” said Lekwene.

“The ANC PEC, as part of their engagements with different stakeholders in Phokwane, will meet with the ANC councillors and the ANC branches in an effort to ensure that we bring about calm – both in the municipality and in the community.

“We are confident that we will be able to resolve the matters at Phokwane Municipality.”

Meanwhile, the provincial Department of Education has placed the principal of Vaalharts Combined School in Jan Kempdorp on special leave after the school was shut down by protesting community members, who were demanding the removal of the principal.

Spokesperson for the MEC for Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said that the community had closed the school and handed over a list of complaints relating to alleged incidents of racism.

“We will study the allegations levelled against the principal and commence with a full-scale investigation into the alleged racism. Neither the Office of the MEC nor our district office received prior notice or correspondence on this matter,” said Van der Merwe.

He called for calm and appealed to parents and the broader school community of Jan Kempdorp to remain calm and allow their children to complete their final examinations.

“The situation has normalised since the department’s intervention and there has been no interruption of the examinations at the school.”