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eThekwini council security is red-flagged, breach at meeting ‘shows bias to ANC’

The eThekwini council meeting was disrupted when dozens of people, dressed in ANC regalia, stormed the venue at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

The eThekwini council meeting was disrupted when dozens of people, dressed in ANC regalia, stormed the venue at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 24, 2021


DURBAN - THE security breach during the eThekwini Municipality’s first council meeting on Monday has left opposition parties feeling the security apparatus of the city is not impartial, but there to serve political party interests.

ANC supporters clad in party regalia stormed the meeting just as their party gave excuses to have the meeting called off after realising the opposition parties had entered into a loose alliance to vote together and take the positions of mayor and deputy mayor.

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Once inside the venue, the ANC supporters started overturning the tables and marched around the tent singing, then marched out with little or no interference from security officials.

The IFP said the incident showed that security officials were not impartial, but were there to serve political party interests.

The party demanded answers on how a small group of ANC members made it past the SAPS and metro police to disrupt a council meeting that was to elect leaders of the municipality.

The meeting was postponed to today due to a power outage.

“It was a strange coincidence that there was a power outage shortly after the members of the ANC stormed the council meeting,” said IFP leader Mdu Nkosi.

“Where was the security apparatus of the city that is always claiming millions of rand in overtime pay? It is very concerning that the ANC members made it past the metro police and SAPS members despite tight security.”

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Nkosi said that people who had no legitimate reason to be at the venue were not allowed in without accreditation.

“One of my colleagues was not allowed in by security. I had to collect his accreditation, which was put in a sealed envelope, leave the council meeting and take it to him at the gate, yet the ANC supporters made it past the gate with ease.

“It is quite clear that we do not have managers in the security clusters, we have individuals who are deployed by the party, and yesterday’s events showed that they will prioritise the party’s bidding rather than protect the public.”

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Nkosi said the storming of the council had damaged the council’s reputation and could have led to catastrophic consequences for the municipality.

“If a staff member was injured during that incident, what would have happened? If an opposition party councillor was injured, the supporters of that party could say the ANC attacked their councillor. What would have been an outcome of that?”

DA councillor and the party’s mayoral candidate, Nicole Graham, said they had written to speaker Thabani Nyawose and the acting city manager, Musa Mbhele, to give an assurance that the meeting today would not be disrupted in any way, including by power cuts.

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“The eThekwini inauguration (on Monday) fell into chaos after the meeting was disrupted by councillors, a mob of ANC supporters who broke into the venue and an electricity failure. It is widely thought the failure may have been deliberate

“It is critical that democracy prevails, and that a lawful and legitimate meeting can go ahead to elect the remaining officer-bearers,” said the DA letter.

The party demanded assurances on what steps were being taken to prevent further disruptions and threats.

EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the city had stated categorically that the incident that involved the grouping that was wearing ANC regalia and T-shirts was unfortunate.

“The city made an undertaking that it would investigate thoroughly in order to ascertain how they got into the venue without being impeded by the security personnel that were entrusted with maximising safety and security.

“As for the meeting, the speaker announced that it would take place on Wednesday (today). The city has pulled out all the stops to ensure that the sitting of that meeting is incident-free, and anyone who would disregard safety and security measures will be dealt with within the ambit of the law.” The SAPS refused to comment on the incident.

Late yesterday, the municipality announced that it had decided to dump the Moses Mabhida Stadium as the host venue for the council meeting and said the new venue would be the betterresourced (with a backup generator) and secure Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.