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Mayor and councillors held hostage at Rand West municipality

The mayor and all the councillors of the Rand West municipality (Randfontein, Westonaria) on the Gauteng West Rand were held hostage in the municipality's council chambers since yesterday afternoon by an unofficial trade union, MAHUSA.

Members of MAHUSA secured the council chambers’ doors with chains and locks and held the mayor and councillors hostage since 14:00 without any food or water. No one was allowed to leave the chambers before all the staff's salaries were paid.

The staff of the local fire department and ambulance services also surrounded the council chambers with fire engines and ambulances. The municipality's staff decided to follow this course of action because the mayor, councillors, heads of departments and all the other employees of the municipality did not receive payment this month.

Since September, numerous members of municipal staff have been unable to meet their monthly financial obligations and various families are now at risk of losing their vehicles and houses.

According to sources inside the municipality, the council was unable to pay its VAT and service providers were also not paid.

According to the FF Plus councillor in the municipality, Ben van der Berg, serious financial problems surfaced in September. At that time, Van der Berg warned the municipality that they were heading for disaster.

The Rand West municipality was one of the municipalities that lost R77 million with the VBS scandal. The municipality tried to make up for the financial deficit by drastically raising the levies for electricity and sewage as well as assessment rates, but the writing was already on the wall.

Last night, the FF Plus MPL in Gauteng, Philip van Staden, informed the MEC for Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, of the incident over the phone. The chairperson of the Local Government Committee in the Gauteng Legislature was also informed.

The FF Plus insisted that the SAPS must be sent to the municipality at once to resolve the situation. The leader of the FF Plus in Gauteng, Jaco Mulder, phoned the SAPS in Randfontein to request assistance. From time to time, Councillor Van der Berg also tried to establish telephonic communication from within the council chambers.
The FF Plus in Gauteng laments what transpired here. The incident proves that municipalities in Gauteng are no longer functioning properly and that they are under immense financial pressure.

The FF Plus insists that the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, the MEC for Finance, Barbara Creecy, and the MEC for Local Government, Uhuru Moiloa, must immediately step in at the municipality to ensure that service delivery continues.

Furthermore, the FF Plus is of the opinion that various Gauteng municipalities will soon head down the same road. Emfuleni is already in chaos with service delivery that has come to a complete standstill, Rand West just collapsed, Merafong City is busy falling apart and Mogale City is close on their heels.

A change in government in Gauteng in 2019 is of cardinal importance to save the province from utter ruin. A clean and workable government, of which the FF Plus will be part, must be voted in.

Contact details:
Philip van Staden: 060 556 4347
Ben van der Berg: 082 671 2302

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