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Q&A | We’re going for a clean sweep this time round: MAP16 leader

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The Maluti-a-Phofung 16 or MAP16 Civic Movement says it will not go into any coalition with the ANC because they don’t live by the same principles. MAP16 leader Paratlane Motloung says they are preparing for a clean sweep in the cash-strapped Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality in the forthcoming local government elections set for November 1. The MAP16 is made up of councillors who were expelled from the ANC in 2018 after they were accused of working with the opposition in council. The decision immediately backfired against the ruling party as it went on to lose 10 wards in a by-election in 2019, leaving them with only five.

How ready are you for the elections and how do see your chances of making significant gains?

Election day is almost here. We have been quite active since the elections were proclaimed, so we are prepared. We have been busy.

When you contested as independent candidates in the 2019 by-elections under the MAP16 banner, you didn’t have much time to campaign and you were largely viewed as a disgruntled group simply trying to wrest power. How optimistic are you now in terms of the support you have?

We are very much optimistic. That is why we are contesting the whole municipality this time round. We are also contesting the seats in the Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality. That says we are very much optimistic. The soil is fertile for us. People are tired of the ruling party here. We believe we have got a chance of taking over the municipality. The chance of having a majority is in sight.

How many candidates are you fielding and do you have a competent set of people to change things in local government there?

Maluti-a-Phofung has 35 wards and it will have about 77 proportional representation seats in this election. We have candidates who understand the needs of the people because that’s why we were fighting when we had a fall-out with the ANC.

Couldn’t you work out things with the ANC after the dust had settled?

Remember how we came out of the ANC was because 16 councillors had been dismissed from the party. So, when the 16 were dismissed, some of us who were not fired decided to go with them. We were supporting them for the cause that they were pursuing in the municipality . . . that of anti-corruption. After that, there was nothing left for us in the ANC.

But the ANC tried to reach out to you and wanted to make amends. Wasn’t that enough to bring you together to talk?

The fact that they came back later and apologised . . . in a way, it was an insult to people like myself. They were just insulting my intelligence. That’s how I feel about it.

And what will happen should you fail to get a majority in council? Will you not consider a coalition with the ANC?

There is no chance for a coalition with the ANC, but with other parties, yes. With the ANC it’s a no, no.

What will it take for you to be able to sit down with the ANC and work things out?

There is nothing new . . . Actually, we are not interested in any discussion with the ANC, I must be honest. And that’s simply because the ANC does not have the interests of the community here. That’s one principle that would make us want to talk to them. We have been members of the ANC for so long. Some of us have been in these councils. We know how it operates. We know the culture that’s in the ANC. We are also even vindicated now with their choice of candidates. Things have gone from bad to worse. I started the ANC here in QwaQwa after the unbanning of political parties together with other members, but wouldn’t want to associate with it now. I was not recruited by anyone. I started it together with the others. We took the initiative to start the structures of the ANC here. None of them can tell me anything.

What are you promising the people should you be given the mandate to lead after this election?

Look, the people here want simple things. The basics. They want water, electricity, good roads, they want the sewage running down the streets to be stopped. And they want the refuse removed on a regular basis. We know how those issues affect them. In our manifesto, we were telling them we will be able to deliver in those areas. You can’t have development if those issues are not addressed.

How are you going to address the issue of unemployment?

Our attitude is that if we can get the basics right by stabilising the availability of water, electricity, fixing roads, sewage others, it becomes easier to address all the other issues. We also believe that we should prioritise local businesses or contractors whenever there are jobs at the municipality at all times. And when the municipality has to hire people, locals should be prioritised. We believe when people have meaningful jobs, they will be able to pay for services like electricity.

One of the issues raised in most municipalities across the country is that there is no money to implement projects or deliver services. How valid is this point, in your view?

The money is often misused. In Maluti-a-Phofung, there is a lot corruption such that the municipality is mainly dependent on the equitable share and other grants like the MIG (Municipal Infrastructure Grant). Other revenue sources such as the selling of electricity are not working. In our instance, most households have bridged the electricity meters, so people are not buying electricity. They are consuming it for free. That is one of the reasons why the municipality owes Eskom in excess of R6 billion. That’s one big challenge that we will have to deal with. But I must say the main thing was corruption, especially during the time of former mayor Vusi Tshabalala.

That’s a very serious allegation. What happened?

They were not servicing the account with Eskom and many other creditors. It’s a challenge that we will be inheriting when we get there. On a quarterly basis, this municipality receives in excess of R250 million in equitable share, which we believe can make a difference with regard to the challenges that we face here. We know that the equitable share is mainly for subsidising the indigents, but unfortunately in our case here it’s not working like that. The municipality is in a very bad state, financially.   

Could this bridging of electricity meters be an indication that people cannot afford, maybe due to high unemployment and poverty levels?

While I agree that there is a high level of unemployment here, the issue of the bridging of electricity meters is not necessarily due to that . . . Even people who are working and can afford are not buying electricity here because of the corruption that was happening in the municipality.

The EFF has been quite active campaigning in the eastern Free State. Do you see them giving you serious competition?

We don’t even consider them. There is very little coming from them. Currently, they have nine seats in the Maluti-a-Phofung council and I can tell you they will be lucky to have five after this election. They are of no serious challenge to us. Those that talk to us acknowledge they are no match to us. We expect to take most of the seats. We believe we stand a chance of taking over the municipality with a clear majority. If we fail, it will be by a slight percentage that will require a coalition with some opposition parties excluding the ANC. But we believe we are front runners for taking the municipality.

And why should anyone consider voting for you?

We are the only practical alternative that is available in Maluti-a-Phofung. We have already proven that we have the muscle to take on the ANC at all levels. The people of Maluti-a-Phofung have a chance to change their lives. There is no chance that the ANC will ever change their lives. Things are going to get worse if we don’t win this election. This is an important chance that people have to change their lives.

But what if someone says you are coming from the ANC, how different are you from them?

Remember, many organisations come from the ANC. That logic therefore doesn’t hold water any longer. We are where we are today because we challenged the ANC from inside. We were challenging all the wrong things from the inside. We were actually disrupting their corruption and they side-lined us. We realised things were not going to change and we left. They could not follow us up because we are confident they won’t find anything on us.

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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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