The KwaZulu-Natal public protector’s office has written a letter to the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nomusa Dube-Ncube, detailing its frustration.
It alleges the municipality has shown contempt for the office.
The letter was recently tabled before members of the Cogta portfolio committee meeting at the provincial legislature.
In the letter, assistance is requested from Cogta to secure the co-operation of the KwaDukuza municipal manager Nhlanhla Mdakane.
“KwaDukuza Municipality has failed and/or wilfully refused to fulfil its constitutional obligation towards this office, and I, accordingly, refer this to you for urgent attention,” says the letter signed by advocate Mlandeli Nkosi, the public protector’s provincial representative.
Nkosi said the office’s investigators had experienced great difficulties in their dealings with the municipality.
“The attitude of the municipal officials deteriorated from non-co-operation to the point where some of the responses received from the KwaDukuza municipality displayed thinly veiled contempt for, and disrespect towards, this office.”
Nkosi said the disrespect was at such a high level that they ignored subpoenas that were served on them on May 17.
“It seems that the grave legal significance of the subpoena was lost on Mr Mdakane, because he and all the officials named in the subpoena simply did not attend the subpoena hearing scheduled for June 22,” said Nkosi.
“Mr Mdakane is to be made to realise that co-operation with a public protector investigation is not optional,” the letter states.
Approached for comment, Sifiso Zulu, the spokesperson for KwaDukuza municipality, said the municipality respected the office of the public protector, and officials would not knowingly undermine it or any Chapter 9 institution.
Zulu said the public protector was investigating allegations that the municipality had not allowed due process when expropriating certain properties that belonged to Mrs SE Ngwane.
Allegations of there being an undue delay in providing some residents with RDP housing, and alleged maladministration and prejudice in the allocation of RDP houses, were also being investigated.
Zulu said they had not ignored the subpoenas.
“The issue with the subpoena is that the intended recipients did not receive it,” he said.
Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the MEC would engage with the public protector’s office, and that the public protector could take legal action against those failing to comply with her office.
DA MPL and member of the portfolio committee, Hlanganani Gumbi, said the KwaDukuza municipal manager should be charged for ignoring a subpoena.
“The fact that he and his officials have ignored a subpoena, he should be charged by both the council and the public protector."
“If the council does not, it will be undermining the constitution and the powers of the public protector,” said Gumbi.