Durban - KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala says newly appointed Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bhekuyise Ntuli will help to bring peace and stability to the violence-ridden province.
Ntuli, who served as the department’s portfolio committee chairperson for more than 10 years, took the oath of office in Pietermaritzburg on.
He replaces Mxolisi Kaunda, who had since been redeployed as mayor of eThekwini municipality following the recall of Zandile Gumede.
“He has been part of the whole security cluster (and) we expect he will hit the ground running, focusing on upgrading road infrastructure and (the) public transport system and ensuring there is peace and stability in the taxi industry,” Zikalala said.
The EFF and DA commended the appointment.
EFF provincial chairperson Vusi Khoza said Ntuli had gained enough experience within the department to be effective in his new role. “But I am concerned about the department supporting vigilante groups such as Isikebhe, which assaults people in the name of fighting crime. He needs to distance the department from vigilante groups,” said Khoza.
DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said Ntuli’s selection “is one of the most important appointments Sihle (Zikalala) has made so far”.
“He appointed someone who had experience, since Ntuli had worked with the portfolio committee, and I don’t see anyone more capable than Bheki Ntuli in the entire legislature,” said Mncwango.
The ANC in the province said it expected Ntuli to improve the KZN transport system and ensure the safety of citizens.
“Comrade Ntuli brings a wealth of experience to his new portfolio, having served as chairperson of the KZN provincial community safety and liaison portfolio committee for three consecutive terms, and as chairperson of the transport portfolio committee for more than a decade,” said ANC provincial spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu.
The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) said it was expecting the new MEC to work hand-in-hand with the taxi industry, which it said was “infested with hooligan taxi operators and criminals”.
“This makes some taxi owners resort to eliminating others and conquering other associations’ routes, and there are also criminals who see the industry as a hiding place to further their criminal activities.
“We need the new MEC to help us deal with these challenges,” said Santaco provincial spokesperson Sifiso Shangase.