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Durban - The eThekwini Municipality has put well-paid councillors in subsidised council flats – at the expense of those in desperate need of affordable housing.
A Sunday Tribune investigation found at least 11 councillors, who are paid R340 000 a year, live in Kenneth Gardens in Umbilo and Merloth Gardens in Morningside after fleeing their constituencies where they claim their lives are threatened.
The average monthly rental for the two-and-half bedroom flats is R1 200, excluding water and lights. The list of councillors includes the ANC’s Mduduzi Enock Bayeni, Nana Tryphina Cele, Nokuthula Yolenda Young, Nompumelelo Theodorah Mabaso, Fanie Themba Mabuza and the IFP’s Mduduzi Samuel Nkosi.
Merloth Gardens, with scenic views overlooking the city, is home to councillors Stan Kikine, Mkhipheni Mzimuni Ngiba, Mpume Chamane, Mathombi Claudia Mnyandu and a fifth unnamed councillor.
Nkosi, a proportional representative councillor who lives at Kenneth Gardens, said the security threats could not be taken lightly. “There have been many threats to my life.”
He said he could not recall how long he had lived there but in 2010 he had received threats “day and night”.
“The municipality decided to accommodate me at Kenneth Gardens. I feel safer here because of the police presence and CCTV cameras.”
Nkosi said most of the councillors living in council flats were from the ANC.
A Kenneth Gardens resident, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “What’s happening is very bad. Councillors and people with businesses, expensive cars and 4x4s live here when they can afford to pay rent for ordinary flats.
“Why must they be subsidised? There is a family of 10 who’ve been trying to move to a bigger flat but can’t. It is unfair and the councillors must go.
“There is also a lot of drug dealing here and people who are living here illegally.”
Another said: “When you confront some of the councillors, they tell you flatly that they were put there by top city officials and there is nothing you can do.”
The Sunday Tribune was also informed that many of Kenneth Gardens estate’s buildings were not only in a state of disrepair, but some tenants were making alterations such as tearing down walls without the city’s approval.
In one instance, a couple who started off as neighbours are said to have torn down a wall dividing them, turning their adjoining flats into a villa. The Sunday Tribune could not confirm this.
DA ward councillor Nicole Graham said she was “deeply concerned” by the allegations and would demand urgent intervention.
Graham said previous councillor Warwick Chapman had been unable to get an audit from the council to reveal who was living in the flats.
“I often receive queries about housing in the ward and it’s disturbing that ordinary residents are denied access to much-needed housing because well-paid politicians are living there instead. It’s unethical,” said Graham.
“They are obviously intended for vulnerable and low-income residents, not for councillors. I believe the municipality is reluctant to investigate who lives in the flats and give details as they do not want to reveal ANC councillors are living in accommodation intended for the poor. I will ask the speaker, Logie Naidoo, to look into the issue.”
Naidoo could not be reached for comment.
Municipality spokesman Thabo Mofokeng confirmed “several” councillors were living in council flats for security reasons. He said the allegations of unauthorised alterations would be investigated.