Acting Mayor Fawzia Peer on alleged poisoning: 'I want to see the video'
Durban - Fawzia Peer, the acting eThekwini mayor, is keen to view footage of Thursday’s full council meeting to determine how a bottle of water suspected to be laced with paraffin was placed for her to drink.
She is expecting results of the tests on Monday. Peer told the Daily News she also wanted the name of the service provider who supplied the water.
She said she did not want to speculate on the day’s events, which resulted in her being admitted to a Durban hospital’s intensive care unit, and preferred to do her own investigation.
“I want to see how that particular bottle of water was placed on the table where I sat. I want to know who the service provider was and I want to see the video footage to see for myself what happened on that day,” she said.
Peer said she received treatment at the hospital to flush out the substance and was waiting to hear from the laboratory what it was and how harmful it was.
“I didn’t pay attention to how easy it was to open this bottle. It later clicked that the bottle was not sealed. I took a sip and got the most horrible smell as my mouth, tongue and throat burned.
“I thank God that I got to the hospital in time and received treatment,” she said.
She said she normally struggled to open a sealed bottle of water and would often ask for help, but this time she was able to open it easily.
Other members of council who witnessed the incident said an assistant was called to inform the speaker, William Mapena, that there was an issue with the water.
Peer complained of feeling dizzy in the council chamber and was helped out of the room by colleagues. Her bodyguards took her to the hospital as her condition deteriorated and she started to vomit.
“I am at home resting because I am feeling weak,” she said on Sunday.
“I do not know if I am coming down with flu, or if it is as a result of that water. My throat, mouth and lips are still burning. I could not eat for a while, but it’s not that bad now. I am eating mild foods and trying to stay away from curries and anything spicy,” she said.
Peer said she could not afford to get sick because she had a city to run.
She rolled up her sleeves and joined city manager Sipho Nzuza and other officials on Saturday to clean up the streets of uMlazi, which had been littered with rubbish left rotting for week because of a strike by waste collection subcontractors who claimed they had not been paid.
She said a long-term plan by the municipality to collect waste in uMlazi was to in-source the people to do the job and do away with contractors.
She said the recruitment process would take some time, but workers collecting waste in the neighbouring township would be roped in to assist in the interim.
“For example, waste collection workers from KwaMashu would be deployed to uMlazi on certain days. This is the strategy we are hoping to use for now until the recruitment process is done,” she said.
The decision to use municipal staff came after a council decision to no longer outsource the controversial waste collection service.
Mayor Zandile Gumede is serving a 30-day suspension while the ANC determines her future.
Gumede was arrested and charged with fraud and corruption relating to the R208 million waste collection tender. She is alleged to have influenced the awarding of the tender to favour certain companies which, claiming they had not been paid by the municipality, apparently failed to pay their subcontractors.
The subcontractors went on strike, leaving uMlazi with weeks of uncollected refuse.
City manager Sipho Nzuza has apparently turned State witness in the matter against Gumede and the contractors, incurring the wrath of ANC councillors who support her.