NEWS24: Mayor’s lifestyle costs ratepayers plenty

Public opinion is divided on the exposé in The Witness on Monday as to amounts were paid by the Umvoti Municipality for Umvoti Mayor Thami Ngubane’s accommodation, bodyguards and transport since his election on 20 February.

Invoices, signed off by the MM, that have been made available to the newspaper, reveal that over R350 000 has been spent on these three categories from February­ to April. Councillor Thami Ngubane was elected Mayor in February and last month was elected the KZN head of the ANC Youth League. The Mayor opted to be a full-time Mayor.

The “mayoral” house in Cooper Street is being renovated which is the reason given by the municipality for placing the Mayor and two bodyguards in Greytown Lodge in February at the cost of R80 000. It is reported that the renovations are extensive, costing over R300 000 and municipal staff are being used for the job.

When the Mayor was appointed in February, it was claimed that there was no suitable vehicle for him to drive. From 19 February to 14 March, Umvoti Municipality paid R84 000 for the hire of a vehicle for the Mayor. Thereafter a R850 000 Jeep Cherokee was purchased by Umvoti as the Mayoral vehicle citing that such a vehicle was necessary for the rough roads in the rural areas covered by the Mayor.

Four bodyguards were employed from Kenyon Security Services in Richards Bay - evidently three to accompany him and one at his “home”. The cost of this service, according to the invoices, exceeded R250 000 from the last week of February until the end of April. A municipal spokesman said the four bodyguards were necessary as a precautionary measure after political unrest in the area stating­ that the Section 139 Cogta intervention and appointment of an administrator had been due to political unrest in the area.

The Greytown Gazette attempted to obtain­ a statement from the Mayor. Several messages were left for him on Monday, but at the time of going to press no response had been received from him. Umvoti ratepayers are entitled to know the justification of such expenditure and what cuts were made to the current budget to finance these amounts. Read more here