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)

Send tip-offs to [email protected]

ANC “outnumbered us” to pass resolution giving Muzi Chirwa more bodyguards – DA

Quite a strongman in regional politics, it looks now that the beefing up of his security was a decision taken because of threats on his life but also it happens three days after the chaotic ANCYL congress in Badplaas that left an MKMVA member dead and one of the mayor’s two bodyguards arrested.

The Democratic Alliance says they were outnumbered when a resolution to appoint a private security company to provide extra bodyguards to Gert Sibande mayor Muzi Chirwa was passed.

The resolution was passed during a special council sitting on 30 May 2018 – just three days after the Gert Sibande ANCYL regional congress in Badplaas that saw MKMVA member Samson Madonsela shot dead. Chirwa’s personal bodyguard Phelele Shongwe, who is also an MKMVA member and who was there to provide security to the conference with other veterans, was arrested and later released by the court on R10 000 bail.

DA councillor in the Gert Sibande district municipality, Muso Kubheka, says Chirwa now has five bodyguards and a company called NJS Security was appointed.

“We said why don’t we take that money and improve service delivery rather than beefing up the mayor’s security.

“We were outnumbered by ANC councillors. They supported the report which said that there are a number of service delivery protests and the mayor should be protected because he receives death threats through his cellphone. We rejected this request,” Kubheka said.

ANC "outnumbered us" to pass resolution giving Muzi Chirwa more bodyguards - DA

ALSO SEE: Parliament committee concerned about Gert Sibande’s “sluggish” response to falling waste water infrastructure

Chirwa previously had two guards since his election as mayor in August 2016 but it now seems NJS Security has provided the three extra guards.

The Gert Sibande district municipality has 19 seats, 14 of which were won by the ANC, DA 3 and EFF 2.

Kubheka said the DA was the only party that opposed the request to beef up Chirwa’s bodyguards and “it was on record”.

A screenshot of a piece of paper seen by the 013NEWS reporter a week ago shows that NJS Security will charge the district municipality about R262 000 monthly, appointed “in emergency” to provide “personal security to the Executive Mayor on an urgent basis,” it reads.

Chirwa’s spokesman Lungisizwe Mkhwanazi didn’t answer e-mailed questions.

(edited by ZK)

Send tip-offs to [email protected]