Pretoria - Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink has raised alarm that criminals have infiltrated the unprotected strike by the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), saying there was a need for crime intelligence to assist.
At a media briefing yesterday at Tshwane House, he said a sophisticated policing apparatus needed to assist, for example, with monitoring phone conversations as a measure to prevent perpetration of crime.
“We are going to need crime intelligence to come in because this thing is very clearly co-ordinated and folks know where to strike,” Brink said.
He said the City’s joint operation centre, which manages the response to the strike, had an SAPS representative on board after he made a request to Police Minister Bheki Cele at the beginning of the strike action on July 26.
“But this now needs to be taken to an upper level. This is the capital city. The risk with any criminality you think you can manage but then you lose control. And if criminals infiltrate the strike, which is evidently already the case, they can start targeting national key points and that is why this thing needs to be on the radar of the SAPS and of the national government and of crime intelligence,” he said.
He made the call for national intervention on the back of violent attacks on municipal properties.
Brink was giving an update about the impact of the five-week workers’ strike over non-payment of salary increases.
He said: “The City of Tshwane cannot afford a salary increase this year. Our budget is underfunded by at least R3 billion.”
He said the payment levels of consumers have not returned to pre-lockdown levels.
“We cannot sell enough electricity at high enough prices to cover the fixed costs of our electricity business. We are implementing plans to become independent of Eskom. This will take at least six months to show any significant results,” he said.
Council approved a zero percent increases for both officials and councillors in the current financial year.
Brink said: “The funding plan and the budget were supported by 155 of the 214 councillors in the City, including ANC councillors.”
The City applied to the South African Local Government Bargaining Council to get exemption from paying increases.
He said every year municipalities have had to pay salary increases in excess of inflation, “and mostly we have been too afraid to apply for exemption”.
“Too afraid of what Samwu is doing now – unleashing chaos and violence on the City and the communities we serve. They have done this so many times before, and too many times the City has cowered in the face of criminal assault,” he said.
Brink said he was more afraid of the situation where the City would run out of money.
“It is one thing for Ditsobotla, Mangaung or Emfuleni to keep on paying increases, and then being unable to pay salaries or pensions at all.
“If you think our Samwu-ravaged streets, sewers, water, electricity and waste collection is bad, it is nothing compared to what is happening to most municipalities in North West, Free State, Limpopo and elsewhere,” he said.