Crime-ridden Glebelands hamstrung by eThekwini's 'leadership issues'

12 July 2019 - 13:57
By Nivashni Nair
Glebelands hostel in KwaZulu-Natal.
Image: THULI DLAMINI Glebelands hostel in KwaZulu-Natal.

"Leadership issues" in the eThekwini municipality have "paralysed" interventions by the office of the public protector to improve living conditions at the notorious Glebelands Hostel.

Deputy public protector Kevin Malunga said on Friday that the public protector could not move forward because "the mayor's on leave and the alleged tiff between her and the city manager".

He was making reference to beleaguered eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede - who is currently on special leave due to her being formally charged in relation to a R208m tender fraud case - and city manager Sipho Nzuza‚ who has reportedly turned state witness in the case.

"We were supposed to do an inspection in loco with the mayor and her team on April 30‚" he said. But Gumede failed to pitch up.

The hostel‚ administered by the eThekwini municipality‚ is considered a hotbed of violence and crime. Comprising of squalid and poorly maintained residential blocks‚ it is overcrowded and rundown.

Gumede is facing charges of fraud and corruption relating to a R208m Durban Solid Waste tender awarded in 2016.

"They [eThekwini municipality] owe us feedback and an action plan. This has not happened‚" Malunga said.

Malunga had tweeted about the lack of action at Glebelands in response to the announcement that the SA National Defence Force would be deployed to areas of violent crime the Western Cape. 

Malunga said the army should also be deployed at Glebelands and other hostels in the area on an ongoing basis to remove all firearms from the premises.

A June 2017 public protector report called for interventions to hold several organs of state accountable for their role in Glebelands.

During a meeting with the SA Human Rights Commission and Malunga in March this year‚ Gumede apologised for the municipality's role in the poor management of the hostel.

A month later during his inspection‚ Malunga found that while the municipality had spent money on improving Glebelands‚ the hostel was still not fit for human habitation. It was was also plagued by crime‚ violence and murder.