Joburg’s blue light saga: DA disputes claims over protection for officials

The Democratic Alliance in Joburg says threats assessments were not done before VIP protection officers were increased on some City of Joburg officials. File Picture: CityPower

The Democratic Alliance in Joburg says threats assessments were not done before VIP protection officers were increased on some City of Joburg officials. File Picture: CityPower

Published Apr 11, 2024


The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Joburg says the administration led by Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda has considerably increased VIP protection units of some executive with requisite threat assessments being carried out by the SA Police Service as required in law.

DA caucus leader in Joburg, Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, rubbished assertions by City of Joburg spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase, who claimed that the DA assigned VIP protection units because members of mayoral committees were afraid to go into communities of black people, without protection.

“I would like to caution the spokesperson for the mayor (Ndamase) to avoid being a politician but to stick to the facts. It is a blatant misrepresentation and misleading to the public. Firstly, I am a DA councillor, I was an MMC in Joburg, I am not white. I am not scared to go into Alex, even without protection,” Kayser-Echeozonjoku spoke to IOL.

“There was a time when I was a MMC when I had to be cautioned to stop just roaming around on my own especially where residents had raised concerns with me directly. This has nothing to do with whether DA councillors were white. They want to use the race card for their failure to stick to the rule of law.”

Councillor Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, the DA’s Johannesburg caucus leader has warned that the water crisis in Joburg could result in waterborne diseases. Picture: Supplied

Kayser-Echeozonjoku said when she was an MMC, she had two VIP protection members and the number was increased after a requisite threat assessment by the police. She said in her line of work at the time, she had to visit and interact with angry business forums, and on at least two occasions, her office was stormed by groups of people.

“My security was only increased by one protector, for them to do shifts, not additional cars. That remained the same. That was done after a security assessment as in the guidelines within the Constitutional Upper Limits for Public office bearers,” she said.

She said the VIP protection has also been extended to chairpersons of council committees, which goes beyond what is stipulated in the Constitutional Upper Limits for Public office bearers.

The former MMC said after the scandal exploded, there is major scramble by executives to get the threat assessments done, in a bid to justify the the VIP protection convoys.

Kayser-Echeozonjoku was responding to City of Joburg spokesperson, Ndamase, who said the current VIP protection policy was “irregularly” introduced during the reign of the DA, with Herman Mashaba as the mayor of Joburg.

Speaking to broadcaster eNCA, Ndamase said the DA members who are now criticising the VIP protection policy, “enjoyed” the service when they were in the municipal corridors of the city.

“Currently the duties of JMPD officers have been made to include the protection of councillors, irregularly since 2016 and 2021 and the current government is now introducing a policy so that it can re-divert the various numbers of officers who are allocated to protect municipal executives back into assisting us to fight the scourge of crime in the city,” said Ndamase.

He stated that prior to 2016, the City of Joburg did not provide protection services to members of the mayoral committee.

Ndamase added that City of Joburg, and Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda believe that the current VIP protection services afforded to executives are excessive and unjustified.

Executive Mayor of Joburg, Kabelo Gwamanda. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Media

“The city administration currently, has felt it unnecessary and quite excessive to be providing security at the level at which the Democratic Alliance had introduced it in the city,” he said.

The city’s spokesperson said members of the DA who served in council were happy to enjoy the perks previously.

“What the DA should have told you is that the protection that is there currently is the same protection they introduced unilaterally and without any policy and procedure. Quite frankly illegally in the city,” said Ndamase.

On the other hand, Mashaba has rubbished allegations that under his watch Joburg Metro Police Department protection was extended to several executives, costing taxpayers millions of rand every month.

Speaking to IOL, Mashaba, who now leads opposition party ActionSA, refuted assertions by Ndamase that JMPD VIP protection officers were assigned to executives during the DA and Mashaba’s term of office.

“When I became the mayor of Joburg, I had my own driver, then all of a sudden the city manager explained to me that from that time I belonged to the city. There were two vehicles that brought me home. Most of the time I was using one vehicle. I used cars that were used by (former Joburg mayor) Parks Tau,” said Mashaba.

ActionSA president Herman Mashaba. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Mashaba said day-to-day, he travelled with the single BMW X5 formerly used by Tau, and would have a second escort vehicle only when visiting volatile communities.

He told IOL that the security detail assigned to him had five officers.

“The car that I am using right now, a personal car, it’s almost 10 years old. It is still new, as far as I am concerned. I am not the kind of guy that just uses public money randomly. Most of the times, (as mayor) I was only using one car,” said Mashaba.

“I do not understand now, all of a sudden what this guy (Ndamase) wants. I only had two cars, and a team of five guys (officers). I think they (City of Joburg) musn’t really talk nonsense.”

“A few months down the line, they brought a report to me, wanting to buy me new vehicles. I completely rejected it. The BMW that Parks Tau had used was still in good condition and I used that vehicle until I left office,” he said.