EThekwini councillors who did not pay their municipal bills sanctioned
Durban - SEVEN councillors in the eThekwini Municipality have been sanctioned by the council’s ethics committee for failing to pay their municipal accounts.
The councillors, who are from different political parties, appeared before the committee and three others have pending hearings with the committee.
They were charged with contravening regulations that stipulate councillors cannot be in arrears for a period longer than three months.
The report on the matter was tabled before council last week.
While most pleaded guilty, some defended the charges against them, one claimed he was not residing on the property that accumulated the debt, and another stated the water leak on the property was causing the debt to balloon every month.
In its report, the Ethics Committee said it had received reports from the Speaker on possible non-compliance in relation to councillors that were in arrears during the periods November 2018 to March 2019, April 2019 to June 2019 and July 2019 to September 2019.
The Ethics Committee thereafter resolved to conduct its hearings between October 6 and November 2, 2020, in dealing with the alleged non-compliance with the Code of Conduct for Councillors to ascertain the reasons contributing.
It said one councillor pleaded guilty to owing the municipality about R10 000 for rates and/or service charges for the period April 2019 to June 2019. The committee’s sanction was a reprimand.
The councillor admitted that his account was in arrears for more than three months. He informed the committee that within a period of three months, his account had increased from R1 000 to R10 000.
He reported to the committee that a leak had been detected on the property.
“He stated that the amount of R10 000 before the committee was not the final amount as there had been a further increase of R1 161,85. He reported on follow ups made in having to pay the outstanding amount as he believed that the problem with the pipe underground was the fault of the municipality,” said the report.
The councillor paid R12 000 in December 2019 to settle the arrears.
Another councillor was in arrears for an amount of R1700. This councillor had faced two different hearings and did not arrive for one hearing or send a representative.
The no-show by the councillor angered the committee, which said the councillor did not show any remorse in their actions, but instead, was disrespectful towards the committee by failing to attend the hearing and failing to give a reason why they could not attend. The committee noted that this was not the first time the councillor had committed such an offence.
The committee recommended the councillor be fined R3000.
Another councillor had been in arrears with eThekwini Municipality for rates and/or service charges for the period November 2018 to March 2019 for an amount of R1 033,73.
The councillor disputed the amount stating that the property did not fall under him and he was not aware of the charges on it. He pleaded not guilty.
However, the committee found him guilty, said he did not show any remorse and issued a fine.
DA councillor Warren Burne, who sits on the ethics committee, said while they were happy with some sanctions the committee had passed, it appeared that the committee was not being taken seriously by the councillors because the sanctions it imposed were so weak.
He said there were many councillors that have been implicated in the DSW tender corruption and none have been brought before the committee.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said they had not been part of the council meeting and had not had a chance to see the report.
Attempts to speak to the chair of the committee were unsuccessful. The office of the mayor had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.