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Durban - The eThekwini metro police chief has come under fire after one of his bodyguards allegedly crashed a new car while driving at speeds of up to 175km/h and then apparently defied a ban on driving council vehicles.
SA Municipal Workers’ Union spokesman, Jaycee Ncanana, said the union was shocked about the alleged incident in which Eugene Nzama’s guard, Thamsanqa Mbongwa, had crashed a new VW Golf GTI last year – just three days after it was issued to him.
In official municipal documents, leaked to the Daily News, which included an affidavit by Mbongwa and the full accident investigation report by the manager of vehicle investigations, Dieter Meyer, it was revealed that the bodyguard had been driving at speeds of between 154km/h and 176km/h before hitting a concrete barrier.
The car was written off and Mbongwa sustained serious injuries.
“On September 17 Inspector Mbongwa was travelling along Dumisani Makhaye Drive, which has not been officially opened to the public, from KwaDabeka to Inanda. He was proceeding to the home of the head of metro police in Newlands,” the investigation report said.
While on Makhaye Drive, he came across a barrier and was unable to stop in time and hit the barrier, the report said.
The report concluded: “It was clear that Inspector Mbongwa drove at a speed that was not safe in the prevailing conditions at the time of the accident”.
Meyer said in his report: “I am of the opinion that Inspector Mbongwa drove NDM 15172 in a reckless and negligent manner, causing a loss to the council.”
He also raised concern that unless there was a valid reason for using the vehicle after hours, Mbongwa might have been using it “for his own private gain over the weekend”.
However, in his affidavit, Mbongwa said he had been granted permission to use the vehicles “24/7 because of the nature of our work”, and that the head of security could account “for the speed I was travelling at the time of the accident. I was rushing to Mr Nzama’s place.”
According to the report, Mbongwa was suspended from driving metro police vehicles “until further notice”.
However, Ncanana alleged that Mbongwa had continued to drive police vehicles.
“It has come to our attention and we are all shocked because any ordinary member employed by eThekwini Municipality would have been on suspension and stopped from driving the municipal cars until they have been proven guilty or not guilty of reckless and negligent (driving), which is a serious cause (of an accident),” Ncanana said.
“But because he is Nzama’s bodyguard, it is just business as normal and we are not happy with this discrimination continuing under Nzama. He does not treat his subordinates equally.
“Whenever he (Mbongwa) needs a car, he just grabs any car in the yard, but if it was any other policeman, that wouldn’t have happened.”
Ncanana alleged that Nzama picked and chose who had to comply with metro police policy.
“We are not going to take this lying down and will use all the power we have constitutionally to expose it.
“The government wants to stop corruption, but at eThekwini Municipality corruption is the order of the day. These things are being done in front of the mayor and they are doing nothing to stop it,” Ncanana said.
Ncanana said he had received two phone calls from a stranger who had threatened him over pursuing allegations of corruption.
“We are thinking of striking again and contacting the public protector’s office. The problem is we are fighting this by ourselves.”
Mbongwa could not be reached for comment despite several attempts to contact him on his cellphone.
eThekwini Municipality spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, said he was aware of the concerns regarding the investigation.
“The municipality is aware of these allegations, which are currently being investigated, and further comment on the matter will be made after the conclusion thereof,” Mofokeng said.