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Durban city councillors, considered to be at high risk were on Thursday morning left with no protection when their bodyguards downed tools, allegedly over a wage and conditions dispute with their employer.
More than 40 VIP bodyguards from Sharks Protection services went to their offices in Problem Mkhize (Cowey) Road to speak to the owner over their unhappiness about salaries.
However, when contacted for comment, the owner of Sharks Protection Services, Kevin Mabanga, denied that the bodyguards were striking, but said that they were having a discussion and would be going back to work.
However, outside the offices, all the vehicles that the bodyguards use were seen parked outside.
A bodyguard who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity claimed that the highest paid body guard received R8 500 a month and the rest less than that.
“How can we look after someone’s life for that little? We put our lives at risk on a daily basis and deserve to be paid more.”
The bodyguard said that they were not at war with anyone, but could sit back and accept what they were being given.
He said they were also concerned about weapons they were given, which meant a lot of them used their own guns to protect the councillors.
“The company gives us .38 guns which only take five bullets. So how do you defend someone and yourself with just five bullets?
“If we use our own pistols that can take 15 bullets they only pay us R10 a day for it,” he said.
The guard said the company was very strict on having them wear black suits at all times.
“For those suits that we wear, we are giving R5 as an allowance to have the suit dry cleaned,” he said.
The decision to not go to work was, according to the bodyguard, not aimed to harm anyone, but to be paid fairly.
City spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, confirmed there was a problem with guards. He could not say how many councillors were affected.
NFP councillor, Bongiwe Mtshali, said this morning that she could not go anywhere today as she did not have her bodyguards.
It was such a huge inconvenience as she had meetings to attend today.
“My children could not even go to school this morning because the bodyguards go everywhere with us. It is a huge inconvenience for me and the company has not even bothered to tell us about this. “We only knew this morning,” she said.
Mtshali said it would have helped if Metro Police could come to their aid so that they can still continue with their duties.
“As we are regarded as high risk, you must understand that being here with no bodyguards is very risky for us, but what can we do,” she said.
eThekwini Speaker, Councillor Logie Naidoo, confirmed that he was trying to come up with a solution.