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Durban - The mayor of the uMgungundlovu district municipality does not consider having seven bodyguards excessive, taking into account they work shifts and, at any given time, there are either three or four on duty.
Yusuf Bhamjee made this comment after being approached by The Mercury for an interview after scathing criticism that he and the deputy mayor, Thandiwe Zungu, shared 16 bodyguards at an annual cost of R1.2 million.
Bhamjee was reluctant to comment further and referred questions to municipal manager Sbu Khuzwayo.
The DA whip in the council, Moira Grueneberg, said on Tuesday that the party would probe why the mayor and deputy mayor were allowed to have 16 bodyguards, according to the organogram, when there were budgetary constraints affecting service delivery at the municipality.
She said there were 11 bodyguards currently employed, costing R1.3m this financial year.
“The DA is concerned about this as the municipality is a grant-dependent institution that is struggling to meet its service delivery objectives while grappling with an incomplete indigent register and billing system,” she said.
Khuzwayo said four bodyguards had been allocated to the deputy mayor and seven to the mayor.
“Not so long ago, in 2006, the mayor’s wife, Dr Sabera, was brutally murdered, with 60 stab wounds from unknown assassins who are still at large. Although the details and findings of the security assessment that was done cannot be released, this incident must have been given due consideration when the mayor’s security was assessed,” he said.
The mayor’s bodyguards came under scrutiny when two of them were recently involved in a shooting on the N3.
Thulasizwe Mbanjwa and Sithembiso Mokoena have been charged with attempted murder for allegedly firing at a motorist while escorting the mayor to Durban.
Mbanjwa had a previous conviction in connection with the death of former ANC heavyweight and UDM leader Sifiso Nkabinde.