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Q&A: ‘We’re not happy . . . we’ll be watching them closely’

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Organisers of the Mangaung shutdown which brought Bloemfontein to a complete standstill in May over service delivery and administrative issues in the city, the Mangaung Concerned Community (MCC), say they are not happy with the way the Free State capital has addressed their demands because there seems to be a deliberate ploy to derail all efforts to bring better service delivery and management to the city. MCC spokesperson Themba Zweni told The Free Stater they want to see a marked improvement in administration and municipal finances in the coming five years. Excerpts:

The MCC had a detailed list of demands when it brought the city of Bloemfontein to a complete halt in May. Are you happy with the way the municipality has addressed your concerns?

No, we are not happy. The challenge with Mangaung is that you take two steps forward, and then you take four steps backwards. You will remember that we were engaged in talks with the Mangaung municipality and everything was going very well. We even had some agreements regarding the issues we raised. We were having four primary demands, namely the lack of land, poor service delivery, lack of employment opportunities and lack of business opportunities. We have agreements on those issues with the municipality on how we will progress. But, unfortunately, the establishment of the metro police threw spanners into the works. We ended up focusing more on the establishment of the metro police instead of the issues at hand. But now that the establishment of the metro police has been stopped, we are resuming the talks we had initially. Of course, we have seen some work being done on the issue of service delivery but we are not happy.

What particular issues from your initial demands are you not happy with?

Service delivery remains our major concern. Lack of employment opportunities remains a problem too. Yes, our local guys are getting sub-contracts and other business opportunities, but we are not yet there where we can say the economy of the city belongs to the residents of the city. We have some instances that contractors are appointed but our local guys are not given opportunities there. We want local businesses to be included, so that the city can grow.

If I can take you back to the issue of metro police, were you taken by surprise at its establishment or you were informed of the plan?

No, we were not. You see, that’s why I was saying you make progress, then suddenly you see someone taking us back. We have even gone to the extent of engaging the ANC deputy president (David Mabuza) about it. There is a particular gentleman who must be removed from the discussions. We have been raising the issue even when we started engaging with the premier of the province (Sisi Ntombela). He may not be officially part of the negotiations right now, but things could change because of his role behind closed doors. The issue of the metro police wasn’t there until August when they started saying ‘we are launching the metro police’. This was a resolution of 2012. It caught us by surprise and we couldn’t understand the sudden rush. Our question was very simple. We told them we had no objection to the establishment of the metro police, but why the rush?

And for you to say that, were you suspecting something, maybe in the form of misuse of funds or procedure not being followed?

We have our own suspicions which we still hold up to now. We prefer to leave it at that point for now. We also suspect that, because people realised the progress we were making, they also wanted to ensure that we were defocused. Some people didn’t want us to move forward.  

The Mangaung shutdown had a major impact on the city. No one expected it to be that effective. Now the country is heading to local government elections, yet you still say you are not happy with how things have gone. What should people consider when they go to vote?

I cannot say much at this point. We are planning to release a statement in the next few days, where we are advising community members on what to consider when voting for pollical parties. I wouldn’t want to pre-empt it. We are still of the view that all political parties were complicit to what happened in the city. They could have done much more but, unfortunately, they did not. So, we will be talking to our members and residents in general about what to consider when voting. Things like priorities and other issues.

Is the MCC supporting any candidates in the local government elections?

The MCC is not supporting any candidate. The MCC is not contesting the elections. But the MCC would encourage residents to make wise choices and we would want to hold every person who gets elected accountable.

You feel the political parties in Mangaung council were somehow complicit in that they failed to act order to save the city, so how do you hope to work with these parties after the elections?

Like I said, we will be releasing something in the next few days. We will be outlining some of our conditions to work with any person who wants to become a public representative. We will be making it very clear to everyone that what happened in the last five years will not happen again. We will be watching them quite closely.

Without pre-empting your statement, what would you like to see happening in the city in the next five years?

The first thing will be administrative stability in the municipality. The second one will be proper financial management. We believe once you have those in place, you will be able to get everything going. We are actually encouraging residents to focus more on municipal processes because . . . once the municipal administration and the politicians start working on something, they cannot just change. They should always engage the community.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Botticelli

    October 18, 2021 at 11:04 am

    We want a better future for our children,this thing of money misusing should come to an end cus we r tired of hunger pain

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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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