Durban – eThekwini Municipality executive committee members – barring the Democratic Alliance - agreed on Tuesday to approve R200 000 for a civic funeral for former African National Congress (ANC) councillor, Colin Gaillard.
Gaillard was the DA’s chief whip and executive committee member before joining the ANC in 2011.
His funeral was already under way at the time the issue came under discussion at the executive committee (Exco) meeting at Durban City Hall.
The DA’s caucus leader at the municipality, councillor Nicole Graham, said that the party had respect for Gaillard and had made peace with him following his move to the ANC, but that R200 000 was an “excessive” amount for a funeral.
According to the request for the funding that was placed before Exco, the municipality has in place a civic funeral policy that was adopted in 2016, which “affords individuals who have been declared eligible for a civic funeral a dignified funeral by the municipality”.
In the request, it was recommended that “...an amount of R200,000 be provided towards the burial costs in respect of late erstwhile councillor Gaillard”.
“I really think the principle of having civic funerals for councillors who have passed away – people of note particularly – is one the DA supports,” Graham said.
“I think it’s an important thing to acknowledge people and what they have done, but I definitely can’t get around the fact that it should cost this much money. Why does it have to cost R200,000 to have a civic funeral?” Graham asked.
“If we want to have a ceremony whereby we show our respects, we can have something at city hall, we can have a nice dignified event – maybe R20,000 is a suitable fee," she said.
There was no breakdown of costs involved in the allocation of the money either, said Graham. “The DA will support a civic funeral but cannot support one that costs this amount of money.”
ANC councillor Sipho Kaunda said Graham needed to look at the situation “realistically” instead of "generalising". He said that to hire city hall for four hours would cost about R45,000, excluding other costs.
ANC chief whip Nelly Nyanisa said the costing for the amount was drawn from previous invoices to ensure it was accurate.
The amount for the funeral was accepted, but it was also decided that the municipal civic funeral policy would be sent to the governance committee for further deliberation and would be settled by the end of August.
In May, the municipality contributed R200,000 to the funeral of former ANC chief whip, Stanley Xulu, using the same policy.