ANC metro un­der fire over R22m

Ekurhu­leni coun­cil raises DA ire over mil­lions not bud­geted for

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SIHLE MANDA

THE EKURHU­LENI metro has racked up R22 mil­lion in un­bud­geted se­cu­rity fees “mon­i­tor­ing and pa­trolling” land be­ing in­vaded by il­le­gal oc­cu­piers be­tween Septem­ber and Novem­ber last year.

A fur­ther R23m was needed to pro­tect the in­vaded land since then.

The rev­e­la­tion is con­tained in the metro’s ad­just­ment bud­get re­quests made in the 2016/17 fi­nan­cial year.

Mo­ti­vat­ing for the ad­di­tional funds, the metro’s hu­man set­tle­ments de­part­ment sug­gested there was a sweep of land in­va­sions in Ekuthu­leni, Com­bizai and May­field.

In the re­port, the de­part­ment said the costs of about R22m had al­ready been in­curred “with­out suf­fi­cient funds be­ing made avail­able”.

Of the re­quested R45.2m, R25m was for Ekuthu­leni, R16m for Com­bizai and R4m for May­field. The city’s bud­get of­fice, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment seen by The Star, ap­proved only R20m of the re­quested R45m.

The Star yes­ter­day re­quested that Ekurhu­leni pro­vide a break­down of the ex­pen­di­ture. The metro had not re­sponded to ques­tions at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

Mayor Mzwandile Masina last year said the metro would es­tab­lish a spe­cial unit to “deal de­ci­sively” with land in­vaders. The unit would “re­act quickly to re­move any­one who in­vades land”, he said.

Last week, Masina told the coun­cil that peace of­fi­cers had been con­verted to land in­va­sion of­fi­cers and traf­fic war­dens. This was ex­pected to help the metro ad­dress the land prob­lem.

In Oc­to­ber, Ekurhu­leni dealt with a flurry of land in­va­sions across the metro, which laid the blame at the EFF’s doorstep. At­tempts to get com­ment from that party on the al­le­ga­tions were un­suc­cess­ful at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

But the party’s re­gional chair­per­son, Mam­puru Mam­puru, told News24 that the oc­cu­pa­tion of vacant plots was sup­ported by the EFF.

The DA’s cau­cus leader in the metro, Ghaleb Cachalia, crit­i­cised the ex­pen­di­ture, say­ing re­spond­ing to land in­va­sion was a com­pe­tency of the city’s metro po­lice de­part­ment and the SAPS.

“There are bud­gets and per­son­nel ear­marked to deal with such is­sues, which are in essence in­fringe­ments of the law.

“In ad­di­tion to that, the Red Ants are em­ployed for the dis­man­tling of (il­le­gal) struc­tures. For mil­lions of rand to be used to guard one area is wor­ry­ing, sig­nif­i­cantly be­cause of the lack of trans­parency.

“The ex­pen­di­ture is wor­ry­ing, but we will be ask­ing ques­tions,” Cachalia added.

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