Cape councillors under guard
Cape Town - Western Cape councillors are coming under attack and taxpayers are having to fork out millions for their protection.
Municipalities across the province have already spent nearly R3.5 million on police protection for 11 councillors deemed to be in danger due to service delivery protests, intimidation and beatings, Local Government MEC Anton Bredell said.
In a written reply this month to ANC chief whip Pierre Uys, Bredell said the councillors are in the City of Cape Town, Theewaterskloof (Grabouw) and Bitou (Plettenberg Bay). The period of the police protection spans from July last year to the end of this year, or until the threat is no longer there.
Uys wanted to know whether any councillors were being protected, which municipalities gave protection, the reasons for protection and the costs thereof.
Of the 11 councillors who received protection, three were from the ANC and nine from the DA. Most councillors under protection were in the City of Cape Town, while the other two were in Plettenberg Bay and Grabouw.
Barbara Rass (DA) from Atlantis has had protection since September 21 this year at a cost of R48 606 thus far.
She had been intimidated, physically attacked and had her property attacked.
“I have now laid 23 charges at the Atlantis police station. In November last year, outside my offices, I was attacked by a person I knew. I gave the name to the police and nothing has happened since.
“I don’t know if it is political or criminal. I don’t know who is behind it or why. I have also been attacked in my office, I get ugly SMS’s and calls. Not only is my life in danger but that of my children and grandchildren,” Rass said.
She added that since there are bodyguards around her 24 hours a day, nothing has happened at her home.
“But I know it is because they are watching me and know my movements. I still don’t feel safe, you get nervous all the time. I even have to take pills, it is not a comfortable zone... there is nothing glamourous to have someone protecting you,” she said.
In Plettenberg Bay, Memory Booysen, the executive mayor of the Bitou council and his deputy Adam van Rhyner, both from the DA, have had protection since July last year, following their party’s victory in the municipal elections in May. They are being protected because there have been threats and physical incidents. Their protection, costing R2.6 million thus far, is currently being re-evaluated.
In Grabouw, councillor Mlulami Tshaka from the DA was given protection for 16 days on and off during the unrest in the town over a by-election fight with the ANC and later when there were protests over space constraints at Umyezo wama Apile Combined School. Tshaka was seriously threatened at the time, but his protection, which cost R55 817.34, has since been terminated.
In Cape Town, Scottsdene councillor Grant Twigg (DA) had protection costing R220 403.98 from July 20 to October 31 last year, and again from January 22 to the present. He was intimidated and lives in a volatile area where gang-related crime is rife.
Chris Jordaan (DA), Elsies River councillor, had protection from February 10 to present after being harassed and intimidated at his home and office. He also had to move away from home for his safety. The cost of his protection thus far is R147 832.74.
Mlulami Velem (ANC), Site C Khayelitsha councillor, was threatened and intimidated and had protection between March 22 and July 31 this year. His protection has now been terminated. It cost R163 129.44.
Junade Hoosain (DA), councillor for Manenberg, was intimidated and had suspicious people loitering and parking their cars on his property. He has had protection since August 2 at a cost of R83 767.71 thus far.
Themba Honono (ANC), councillor for Mfuleni, received protection after intimidation during ongoing service delivery protests in his ward. His protection, which is ongoing, has cost R135 379.56 from April 4.
Mayenzeke Sopaqa (ANC), councillor for Langa, received protection from October 5 to 12 after explosive service delivery protests. The cost was R6 530.08.
Michael Toko (DA), councillor for Delft, was intimidated and had live shots fired around his house. He had protection from September 21 to 27. The cost was R5 424.30
Approval for protection for all councillors was investigated by their respective councils in consultation with the police, mayors, speakers and municipal managers.
Bredell said he was worried about councillors who have been intimidated, but hopeful that it was not a trend in the Western Cape.
“It does not have to become a luxury, but a necessity, because we are using taxpayers’ money. Where there are problems we have to protect the councillors. To get rid of a councillor, people must vote the person out. We have to be democratic about it and not resort to violence,” he said.
The DA’s Cape Town metro chairman Grant Pascoe said his party discourages intimidation of councillors and is very concerned about the revelations: “We need to educate our communities about what councillors do and [temper] some of the unrealistic expectations people may have.”
The ANC’s metro chairman Xolani Sotashe said council work is very challenging and sometimes puts councillors’ lives in danger.
“Sometimes you have people going around assassinating your character, you will find it is lies, it makes the community angry. You can’t take chances with an individual’s life, we have to take precautionary measures.
“It is not good to have a councillor surrounded by bodyguards at a community meeting. They are there to give feedback and interact with their community,” he said.