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MEC Lebogang Maile eats humble pie, apologises for insulting resident

Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile apologised to a member of the public who was complaining about service delivery, for insulting him in an exchange of text messages.
Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile apologised to a member of the public who was complaining about service delivery, for insulting him in an exchange of text messages.
Image: Mabuti Kali

Gauteng co-operative governance MEC Lebogang Maile has apologised for insulting a member of the public who complained about having his electricity cut off.

Maile came under fire in parliament for losing his cool in text messages to Tshwane resident Lucky Nkhwashu after dropping an f-bomb and threatening to “mess up” the 50-year-old man.

“Don't start with me. I didn't switch off your electricity, do I say you must not pay? I'm not your friend. I have handed you over to people who must help you, what more do you want from me,” he wrote in a text message.

In another, Maile wrote: “F*** you, you don't know me bloody Askari. I'll mess you up you b****rd.”

Maile apologised after the Sunday Times reported this Sunday about the exchange.

“I would like to offer my sincerest apology to the person concerned, the people of Gauteng that I have been granted the honour and privilege of serving, the collective leadership that I serve with on the provincial executive and the organisation that I belong to and represent in government, the ANC,” he said in a statement.

“As public servants, we should always conduct ourselves in a manner that is above reproach and interact with the public who come to us with service delivery concerns with utmost humility, in the spirit of ubuntu and with the greatest respect.

“I am aware that I have let myself down and caused unnecessary hurt to the person concerned in the manner that I have responded in and would like to take full responsibility for my actions and hope that my apology is accepted,” said Maile.

He said he was willing to undergo whatever corrective and disciplinary measures deemed necessary, to resolve the situation amicably.

Maile, confronted by EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi about the exchange, told a meeting of the co-operative governance and traditional affairs portfolio committee on Thursday that Nkhwashu, whose electricity had been disconnected due to non payment, had sought special favours, indicating that he was a member of the ANC.

“We can't allow people to use the name of the ANC and drag it in the mud,” Maile said.

Nkhwashu denied Maile's version of their exchange, saying because of the lockdown, he could not afford to pay his electricity bill and was disconnected on May 17.

He said he contacted the City of Tshwane and one of its electricity suppliers to object, arguing that cutting off his power during the lockdown was illegal. When he got nowhere, he approached Maile.

“I was asking which act creates this relationship between the city and this company, and how is it in the interest of the people?”

Nkhwashu said he asked Maile, as he had asked other leaders, why the ANC-led government had never probed the pre-democracy arrangement that Tshwane had with the service provider in question.

“My fight with Lebogang started there because he said I was getting into politics and that he had been in politics for a long time.

“That's when I said to him I have been a member of the ANC for years, from when it was illegal. That's how the whole ANC membership thing came up,” said Nkhwashu.