Controversial Saldanha Municipality Mayor Marius Koen at the unveiling of the plaque. Picture: Screenshot.
Controversial Saldanha Municipality Mayor Marius Koen at the unveiling of the plaque. Picture: Screenshot.

Questions raised about cost of Saldanha mayor’s monument ceremony

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Sep 6, 2021

Share this article:

Cape Town - The EFF has raised questions about the cost to taxpayers of the recent monument unveiling ceremony in Saldanha which celebrated five years in office for its controversial Mayor Marius Koen.

The event was marked with pomp and ceremony, complete with a guard of honour comprised of members of the municipality’s fire service and law enforcement officers.

EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego has asked for costings related to "the invitation, its design and distribution, transportation of participants, performers, marshals, staff, ribbons, cloth/s and all other expenses that the project may have incurred".

“The dedication of a plaque and monument to a privileged white male is nothing else but a reflection of white nostalgia and an attempt to recycle both colonial and apartheid violence in an attempt to undermine victims of these oppressive epochs.

“It is extremely insensitive, but not surprising, that Koen and the DA-led municipality would use state resources in the form of his staff, invitation to the Metro Police, officials, using heritage grounds, banners etc,” said Xego.

Koen, who unveiled the monument, was forced to remove the commemorative plaque from the monument following public outrage.

The plaque which has since been removed. Picture: Screenshot.

The mayor admitted that the monument, dubbed “A Beacon of Hope” at the town’s Hoedjieskop Museum, was a mistake.

“The construction and unveiling of the Beacon of Hope along with the plaque to honour my five-year term in office was an initiative by some of my support staff, unbeknown to me.

“I agree that dedicating this artwork to a public representative for whatever reason was an ill-conceived idea and as such the plaque was removed.”

He said the beacon was constructed from recycled products and natural resources and no public funds were used.

On a video posted on the Saldanha Bay Municipality Facebook page, municipal communications officer, Petra Mei, said: “We’re celebrating Mayor Koen as the first executive mayor under the new Saldanha Bay Municipality administration who has completed a five year term successfully in office without any delay or replacement."

Controversial Saldanha Municipality Mayor Marius Koen at the unveiling of the plaque. Picture: Screenshot.

Leader of the opposition in the legislature, Cameron Dugmore (ANC), said: “We will write to Local Government MEC Anton Bredell to institute an investigation of wasteful and fruitless expenditure and for him to take remedial action.”

He said the voters of Saldanha will remember this when they vote in the forthcoming local elections.

Local Government standing committee chairperson Derrick America (DA) said: “The DA has always advocated for the responsible use of taxpayer monies. I understand and welcome that the plaque has since been removed.”

Good Party secretary general Brett Herron said building or dedicating a monument to a mayor for serving a full term “is a gross abuse of office and a monumental abuse of public funds”.

[email protected]

Share this article: