Gert Sibande municipality backs decision to hire bodyguards for Absenia Habile

They say they couldn’t risk the man’s life.

The Gert Sibande district municipality says they took “seriously” the threats made through SMSes to municipal manager Absenia Habile and had to hire bodyguards to prevent any risk to his life…

Habile caused an outcry late last year when the municipality bent rules to supply him with bodyguards.

They were supposed to get a risk assessment report from police boss Lieutenant-General Mondli Zuma but Zuma ignored their request in June 2018 when they told him Habile was receiving “death threats”.

Then in November 2018 a council sitting took a resolution to supply Habile with two bodyguards, despite having no security assessment report from Zuma.

Municipal spokesman Lungisizwe Mkhwanazi said the hasty decision was taken “as a result of several worrying, consistent and regular life threatening messages directed at Mr Habile and members of his family”.

“These messages directly affected Mr Habile’s wellbeing and even his performance at work which was a matter the institution took seriously,” Mkhwanazi said.

Mkhwanazi said despite not getting “response or feedback” from Zuma they did open a case with the cops in Ermelo.

“Despite not receiving feedback from General Zuma’s office an effort to avoid possible loss of life was taken,” he said.

“Careful consideration to the financial implications was applied in that no new security contract was made, instead an extension of a readily available VIP protection service was used. This was a three months arrangement until the police commissioner’s office could advise accordingly and the SAPS could conclude on the case,” Mkhwanazi said.

Habile will be protected at R61 000 each month.

Mayor Muzi Chirwa was also provided with three extra bodyguards by a council resolution in May 2018.

Chirwa previously had two bodyguards and now the resolution added the three at R262 000 each month and this occurred 3 days after an MKMVA member was shot dead during an ANCYL conference, allegedly by one of his two bodyguards.

Trevor Nkosi, the chief whip at the same Gert Sibande district municipality, also has bodyguards.

DA councillor Muso Kubheka said it was unlikely the municipality was paying for Nkosi’s three bodyguards.

“We asked that question and they said ‘no’. And because it didn’t go to council we take it the municipality is not paying for Nkosi’s bodyguards,” said Kubheka.

(edited by ZK)

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