Pub­lic pro­tec­tor ac­cuses Zille and De Lille ‘of con­tempt’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - SOYISO MALITI

PUB­LIC Pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane an­nounced that Western Cape Premier He­len Zille and Cape Town mayor Pa­tri­cia de Lille are in con­tempt of her of­fice af­ter the two lead­ers failed to at­tend an in­spec­tion in loco in Masi­phumelele town­ship yes­ter­day.

Ear­lier this week, Zille and De Lille were in­volved in a row with the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s of­fice, af­ter Mkhwe­bane sub­poe­naed the lead­ers to an in­spec­tion of Masi­phumelele’s A, B, C, D and Z sec­tions, which are sit­u­ated on a wet­land.

Zara Nicholson, De Lille’s spokes­woman, said the pub­lic pro­tec­tor had not fol­lowed the cor­rect pro­to­col in sum­mon­ing the mayor.

“A sub­poena must be served to some­one in per­son. This did not hap­pen. The city is al­ways will­ing to co-op­er­ate with the pub­lic pro­tec­tor, but we want to fol­low proper pro­ce­dure in or­der to pro­tect the in­tegrity of the Of­fice of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, as well as the work we do as the city.”

She said the mayor was will­ing to co-op­er­ate once the com­plaint had been sub­mit­ted.

Nicholson said the city had not been in­formed by Mkhwe­bane that the mayor was in con­tempt. Zille’s spokesman, Michael Mpofu, could not be reached for com­ment.

Mkhwe­bane said both of­fices had been “duck­ing” her in­spec­tion and “gave us ex­cuses”.

She said had Zille and De Lille been present, she would have asked them ques­tions such as what they had been do­ing about the sit­u­a­tion on the spot, with res­i­dents present. “I was just try­ing to find so­lu­tions with them,” Mkhwe­bane said. “Masi­phumelele needs so­lu­tions very quickly.”

Dur­ing the in­spec­tion, in which she had to change her stilet­tos for flat brown shoes to walk on the muddy ter­rain, Mkhwe­bane sug­gested that the wet­land needed to be cor­doned off so that no more oc­cu­pa­tions could take place.

On her sec­ond visit to Masi­phumelele in as many months, Mkhwe­bane de­scribed the liv- ing con­di­tions as “hor­ri­ble”.

“No hu­man should live un­der these con­di­tions,” she said. Five fam­i­lies share an out­side toi­let in the area. Three of the dozen toi­lets have been out of use for months, with hu­man ex­cre­ment flow­ing over the toi­let seats.

Chris Nis­sen, Hu­man Rights Commission ( HRC) com­mis­sioner, said the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s of­fice and the commission would work to­gether to com­pile a re­port on Masi­phumelele.

Sithem­bele Mt­shamba, a com­mu­nity ac­tivist, said Zille and De Lille’s ab­sence yes­ter­day spoke vol­umes, and reaf­firmed what Masi­phumelele res­i­dents had known: “They don’t want to deal with this is­sue.”

Ganief Hen­dricks, a Masi­phumelele coun­cil­lor, wel­comed the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s visit, and said: “I think she (the pub­lic pro­tec­tor) is tak­ing the lead to en­sure there is proper san­i­ta­tion and hold­ing the city to ac­count.

“If she acts harshly, it will send out a strong mes­sage.”

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