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Protest leaders explain why they called for Mangaung shutdown

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Staff Reporter

A member of the little-known Mangaung Community Concern which has called for a total shutdown across Bloemfontein on Monday says they want the city council disbanded because it has failed to serve the residents as shown by the deplorable state of the metro municipality.

The organisation’s representative, Temba Zweni, told The Free Stater by telephone on Sunday night that they have been left with no option but to take to the streets because all their efforts to engage the city authorities have yielded nothing.

“We want the council to be disbanded because it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do,” said Zweni, who identified himself as a member of the group’s communications team.

“We are so frustrated because we can see our monies being mismanaged – that’s why you have unauthorised expenditure of over R1 billion in one year in this municipality.”

“Most of us have been making an effort as individuals to raise our concerns with the municipality, but we ended up deciding that our individual efforts in different corners are not really making any impact and, as such, it would be better if we joined hands and form . . . the Mangaung Community Concern,” he explained.

Zweni said as residents of Mangaung, they are frustrated with the state of the roads where potholes make it difficult to drive around.

He said raw sewage flowing on the streets makes it impossible for most people to open windows of their houses due to its heavy stench.

The organisation wants residents to be more involved in decision making in the municipality.

“We are part of the three components that make a municipality – a municipality is made up of politicians, administrators and the community,” he said.

“But we have been excluded all along. They are not serving us as residents.”

Zweni also said as residents, they had lost confidence in city manager Tankiso Mea and wanted him to go.

He also called for a forensic audit into the operations of the municipality as they suspected several illicit developments could be going on.

“The city manager has proved incompetent and as such we are saying he must be dismissed,” Zweni said.

“We want a forensic investigation into the deals that are happening in this municipality, including the land deals.”

Zweni bemoaned what he called lack of opportunities for residents saying most contracts were given to companies from outside the municipality as well as a high vacancy rate, according to the city’s Integrated Development Plan and reports of the Auditor General.

“Mangaung municipality is sitting with 3 600 vacant positions, which is about 50 percent of its staff complement. Most of those positions are in service delivery clusters,” he said.

Zweni said the city has failed to implement several projects because engineers who are supposed to run them have not been hired, thereby inconveniencing residents.

“We are sitting with a vacancy rate of 61 percent in the engineering section of the municipality,” he claimed.

“We are sitting with 49 percent in the solid waste management department, which is the one that’s supposed to collect all the rubbish out there.

“Unfortunately, refuse has not been collected for a very long time.”

He added: “This municipality is employing 2 000 employees less than those employed by Buffalo City Municipality but the employment costs are the same. How possible is that?”

But in a statement dated May 13, 2021, Mangaung Metro said it had made significant progress in meeting the demands of a local business forum and different community forums.

Among the points, it said it had been agreed that local people be given preference for employment and that more land be made available for developments.

It however said it could not accept the request that Mangaung should not hire outside contractors as it was against the laws of the country and could also disadvantage locals when they sought to do business outside the city.

The municipality however said outside contractors would be required to subcontract locals.

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Municipal manager facing tender fraud charges granted bail

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THE ACCUSED . . . Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha is out on bail

Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha, 49, was on Friday released on a bail of R500 000 by the Phuthaditjhaba Magistrates Court after he was arrested by The Hawks for fraud, corruption and Contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The state alleges that he allegedly awarded a contract of R58 million to Kill Crime Security Company in 2020 without following proper procurement processes.

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said Mothamaha allegedly signed a service level agreement on May 19, 2020, appointing the company to render security services to the municipality for a period of three months without following procurement processes.

“The municipality continued to pay Kill Crime Security Company for almost two years without a contract,” said Shuping.

He said Mothamaha was supposed to appear with his co-accused, father and daughter who are the owners of Kill Crime Security, Thabiso, 55, and Dimakatso Sekhosana, 29, on Monday after they were instructed by The Hawks to hand themselves over on Sunday, but he failed to do so.

The Sekhosanas appeared on Monday facing similar charges and were released on bail of R150 000 each.

Part of Mothamaha’s bail conditions are that he must not enter the offices of the municipality, not interfere with the investigations nor intimidate witnesses.

The case was postponed to September 30 for further investigations. – Staff Reporter

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Six nabbed for alleged theft of network batteries

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NABBED . . .  The six men believed to have stolen network batteries and damaged critical infrastructure

 Six men were due to appear in the Marquard Magistrates Court on Friday after being found in possession of eight network batteries believed to have been stolen.

Police spokesperson for the eastern Free State, Warrant Officer Mmako Mophiring, said the suspects were arrested following a joint effort by members of the SA Police Service, private security and farmers.

He said police received information from the community at about 3am last Wednesday saying some unknown men were digging up network boxes and cutting copper inside a manhole.

“The police activated and mobilised other members and arrested the first suspect who is a foreign national near a filling station while sitting inside a vehicle,” said Mophiring.

The man was arrested for possession of suspected stolen property after eight network power box batteries were found in his possession and failed to properly account for them.

While pursuing the matter with the help of some farmers, the police received information at about 8am that some five men were trying to hitch-hike near a certain farm to Senekal.

“The team quickly responded and arrested the three suspects who were successfully linked to the initially arrested suspect. Two other suspects managed to escape but were chased and arrested near a farm going to Senekal. Four of the six suspects are Illegal immigrants and two are South Africans,” he explained.

The six are aged between 23 and 30 years of age.

They are facing charges of contravening the Immigration Act, possession of suspected stolen property and damage of infrastructure.

Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane applauded the community and the team for the prompt arrests and urged them to “continue working together to fight crime”.

Meanwhile, three suspected armed robbers were sniffed out of their hideout in Thaba Nchu near Serwalo on Thursday morning following a petrol station robbery.

Police spokesperson in Mangaung, Sergeant Mahlomola Kareli, said in a separate statement four armed robbers arrived at the petrol garage just after midnight on Wednesday and threatened the security guard with a firearm before tying him up with wire and fleeing the scene with a undisclosed amount of cash and cans of motor vehicle oil.

The suspects demanded keys from the guard and gained access to the back offices.

And while others were busy helping themselves to the oil cans and cigarettes, others were busy grinding the safe to access the money inside.

The four then left the security guard with his hands and feet tightly fastened with a wire.

The guard was only rescued by staff starting duty at 5am.

The matter was reported to the police and a case of armed robbery was opened at Thaba Nchu Police Station and a manhunt was launched.

Luck ran out for three of the suspects aged between 38 and 40 after they were traced and found near Serwalo in Thaba Nchu at about 2am on Thursday and were arrested.

They were found with an undisclosed amount of money suspected to have been stolen during the robbery.

One suspect remains at large.

The three were due to appear in the Thaba Nchu Magistrates Court on Friday for business robbery. – Staff Reporter

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Garden scissor attacker nabbed

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THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

A 64-year-old man has been arrested after stabbing one person in the stomach with a broken garden scissor and injuring the victim’s family while holding them hostage.

Police say they were called to a place in Verkeerdevlei on Wednesday evening where a person had been stabbed in the stomach.

Upon arrival, they found a 53-year-old man who had been stabbed in the stomach with the broken scissor.

The suspect had already fled the scene.

“The victim was taken to hospital for medical treatment,” said Captain Stephen Thakeng in a brief statement.

Further investigations revealed that the same suspect went to the house of the victim’s 36-year-old daughter house where he held her and her two children – aged 13 and 15 – hostage.

“Tactical Response Team (TRT) members from Park Road were activated at about 21:30 and it was realised that the suspect was holding (the family) hostage in a three-roomed shack,” said Thakeng.

“The TRT members gained entry into the shack and rescued the three from the suspect.

“The three victims were also stabbed with the same half part of the big scissor.”

The suspect is facing a charge of attempted murder and three counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He will appear in the Verkeerdevlei Magistrates Court soon.

THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

Meanwhile, a man believed to be terrorising tuckshop owners around Bothaville was arrested on Wednesday following a tip-off by community members.

Police say they received information about a man with a firearm and who might be involved in robberies of tuck shops of foreign nationals at about 16:30.

The suspect’s house in Kgotsong was identified and members of Bothaville Crime Prevention approached it and asked for permission to search the place.

They were granted permission and a 9mm pistol was found and a 27-year-old man from Potchefstroom was arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The suspect will appear in the Bothaville Magistrates Court soon. – Staff Reporter

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