The uThukela District Municipality came under intense scrutiny after R15.8 million was allegedly spent on constructing 15 toilets outside a rural property in Ladysmith.
This lavish expenditure brought the proverbial spotlight onto the town, but the District Municipality has opened up on the matter.
When the allegations first surfaced, the African National Congress (ANC) Josiah Gumede Region expressed its dismay over the substantial amount allocated for the construction of toilets for a single family.
Bonga Hlomuka of the ANC Josiah Gumede region, criticised the lack of planning and understanding displayed by the IFP-DA leadership in running the municipality. He remarked, “Just when we thought we had seen it all, then boom, 15 toilets built for one family. The IFP-DA councillors don’t know that the funds they use to satisfy their political and narrow selfish desires are paid by taxpayers.”
Hlomuka emphasised another pressing issue: the municipality’s inability to honour its creditors, owing hundreds of millions of Rands. He accused the IFP of mismanaging the municipality and treating it as a personal enterprise rather than a public service institution.
He urged accountability, stating, “The IFP has collapsed the municipality. That’s because they regard the municipality as their own spaza shop instead of a public service institution. Hence, they forget that accountability is inalienable.”
Moreover, the uThukela District community’s frustration culminated in reaching out to various oversight bodies, including the public protector and human rights commission. “We are now appealing to the legislature to use their powers to dissolve this council. It has been nothing but a thorn in the communities’ flesh since 2021,” concluded Hlomuka.
Discussing the matter, the DA Caucus leader in the uThukela District Municipality, Cllr Thys van Rensburg, confirmed the ongoing investigations. “We are hoping that the investigation report will be available at the end of the month,” he said, highlighting that the matter was of grave concern, especially when considering that several families did not have access to toilets.
Furthermore, he noted the uThukela District Municipality could not afford to spend R15.8 million on the said toilets. “Accountability has to be taken,” he stressed.
Adding fuel to the fire, a video on TikTok pinned the responsibility on Alfred Duma (Ladysmith) Municipality. However, Ladysmith Mayor, Cllr Zama Sibisi, distanced the municipality from the controversy, urging restraint until the investigation concludes.
“We are told that the matter is currently under investigation and we call on people not to make false speculation until the findings of the investigation are concluded. We wish to remind members of the public about the government’s roles and responsibilities.”
With this in mind, the office of the Mayor said that according to the spheres of government, Alfred Duma Local Municipality falls under local not District – “This must give clear understanding that provision of Sanitation is not part of our functions, therefore the matter under investigation about 15 toilets constructed for 1 family is not within our mandate,” said the Office of the Mayor.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, 18 October 2023, the uThukela District Municpal Mayor, Cllr Ntandoyenkosi Shabalala flushed the allegations surrounding the toilets.
Reading an official statement from Councillor Abbas Warasally regarding the toilet project in Ward 20, Ladysmith, Cllr Shabalala explained that the toilets in question are part of a project which was started in August 2018.
At the time, Councillor Warasally was notified by the District Municipality that Ward 20 had qualified for 100 toilets. However, following a committee meeting at the time, it was found that 60 toilets would suffice for the Ward, with Cllr Warasally then suggesting the remaining 40 toilets be allocated elsewhere.
The initial plan was to see a toilet placed at each of the homes in the area. However, highlighting Cllr Warasally’s response to the saga, Cllr Shabalala explained that the Ward Councillor found that since the completion of the project, not all the toilets were actually built, and steps were now being taken to resolve the matter.
In addition, Cllr Warasally cautioned the media to be careful of information that was supplied to them, especially in the build up to the upcoming 2024 Elections.
With the allegations of R15.8 million being spent on 15 toilets being shot down, what are your thoughts on all of this? Share your views in the comment section below.