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Mayor wants SAPS to investigate rumours of councillors being on hit lists

Sep 18, 2017
Mayor wants SAPS to investigate rumours of councillors being on hit lists

The Executive Mayor of the Raymond Mohlaba Local Municipality, Bandile Ketelo, on Monday said that he is approaching the SAPS' Crime Intelligence unit to investigate rumours making rounds at the municipality about a number of local councillors being on hit lists following the murder of the municipality's former Speaker, Thozama Njobe, in July.

Adding to the rumours, he said, is an arson attack that happened at the home of Councillor, Nomhle Sango. As a result, there have been media reports of Councillors at the municipality going into hiding with their families after concluding their work day.

"Alarming rumours are fuelling uncertainty and a general feeling of insecurity and fear in the communities of the Raymond Mhlaba Municipality," said Ketelo.

"I am the Mayor, and this general feeling of doom and gloom, and of fear, bothers me very, very much.

"In the aftermath of the shocking assassination of Speaker Thozama Njobe on 17 July there are many reports of threats against councillors. People say terrible things."

The Mayor said that reports are circulating that certain councillors are on hit lists because of corruption in the municipality.

"Because of tender irregularities; because of factionalism... There is a false narrative going around that in the council of this municipality there are corrupt councillors who are defending or even shielding corrupt practices, and that our former speaker, Thozama Njobe, was the only person who championed anti-corruption," Mayor Ketelo described.

"The media has quoted 'sources within the municipality' that Njobe had been fighting a lone battle against fraud and corruption and was not supporting projects that appeared to have been ‘influenced’ or ‘dodgy’.

"This is not correct. The recommendation by the national treasury to conduct a comprehensive investigation into certain projects had been discussed and supported by the Executive Committee and I had tabled the report at the ANC Caucus and at a full Council meeting.

"All these structures unanimously supported the recommendations following a council resolution I had subsequently written to the MEC of Cogta, Fikile Xasa, and to the Minister of Finance, requesting a comprehensive investigation.

"There was absolutely no resistance necessitating the speaker to intervene. By following up on the implementation of the council resolution, the speaker had been performing her duties to hold the executive to account about the implementation of council resolutions in general."

Ketelo said that as the head of the municipality, he has not record of any dodgy or influenced projects that were opposed by the former speaker, or raised by her in any of the meetings of the municipality.

"Neither am I aware of any investigations undertaken by the Hawks linked to the unnamed projects in the current term of council.
Of course the joining together of two municipalities, Nkonkobe and Nxuba, brought unique challenges now managed by the council and the administration of the newly formed Raymond Mhlaba Municipality.

"We should, as communities, strive to find a new pride and belonging in our new municipality. We are now members of a bigger municipality. We have more power to influence our own progress. The successful negotiations with Eskom, last week, shows that Raymond Mhlaba has more strength than the two smaller municipalities it now combines," the Mayor said.

"We must not allow those who do not want us to succeed to get under our skins. We must fight threats also with our attitude of belonging together, against those who threaten us.

"We do not know why our Speaker was murdered. Our mourning is bigger because we do not know why such a terrible thing was done to one of us. I hope and trust that the investigation will help us understand why Thozama was killed, and that understanding will bring us closer together."

Mayor Ketelo says he takes any threat to life seriously.

"Therefore, I have personally spoken to several of the councillors reported to be threatened. The councillors I have contacted confirmed that they are not aware of any threat against them.

"The municipality cannot act in the absence of official complaints, and in the absence of specific information about threats to councillors.

"I have reported the arson attack on Councillor Sango’s property to the municipality’s Chief of Security after she had formally informed me. The Chief had been in contact with Councillor Sango and she is aware of the procedure to obtain security," he said.

"Given the information about the alleged threats at my disposal, I can only conclude that rumours of threats are being spread in order to serve very specific and disrupting factional interests. 

"However, the rumour mongering has now so disrupted our communities and has caused so much uncertainty and fear, that I am compelled to report the matter to Crime Intelligence and ask them to investigate officially."

On Monday, Mayor Ketelo also appealed to residents and the media to refrain from desecrating the memory of Njobe by spreading baseless and malicious gossip about the circumstances surrounding her murder.

Njobe, who was the local Branch Secretary of the African National Congress (ANC), was shot and killed in an execution style in July at Fort Beaufort while she and another person were driving from a gathering in New Town.

A manhunt by Eastern Cape saw the arrest of two men in August for alleged involvement in her murder.