Mayors demand bodyguards
Municipal councillors across the country are demanding that the state provide them with the same security as ministers.
They cited examples of several councillors whose homes were torched or who were attacked during service delivery protests. Most councillors, unlike ministers and MECs, still live in the townships and municipalities do not provide them with security. This was raised at the South African Local Government Association's (Salga) council of mayors in Cape Town last week.
This comes after the North West's Ditsobotla municipality mayor Daniel Buthelezi was held hostage in his office last month by community members who complained about service delivery.
Midvaal municipality mayor Bongani Baloyi told Sowetan yesterday that the national government was being inconsiderate and inconsistent on the issue of protection for local councillors.
"If a premier or an MEC is appointed today, he or she gets a driver and a bodyguard immediately," Baloyi said.
"But if you are appointed as an executive mayor you must wait for six months or a year for a security assessment from the police first."
Baloyi said the government was dealing with the issue of security for councillors from an "aloof point of view".
"They are comfortable where they live because people don't know where they live.
"We are the ones who deal with the community on a day-to-day basis because we live with the community," he said.
Limpopo's Greater Letaba municipality councillor Vincent Mangoro said provision of bodyguards for councillors was long overdue.
"During service delivery protests, protesters throw things into our yards and burn our houses," Mangoro said.
"If we are given bodyguards, protesters will not come closer to us because they would know we are protected."
Nyiko Baloyi, a councillor from Limpopo's Mopani district municipality, called on the government to do a risk security analysis for all councillors.
"It is good that Salga has begun to raise the issue of security for councillors," Baloyi said. "Attacks on councillors are escalating."
Emfuleni municipality mayor Simon Mofokeng said the government continued to put the lives of councillors at risk by failing to provide protection for them.
"More often when people protest they relieve their anger by attacking councillors," Mofokeng said.
Salga spokesman Sivuyile Mbambato said the issue of security and safety for councillors has been elevated to the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs for urgent attention.
However, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen's spokesman, Legadima Leso, said that the matter had not yet been brought to their attention. "We don't even know the context in which it was raised," Leso said.
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