Merafong residents continue to suffer due to rampant cable theft

All the authorities that are meant to protect residents from the economic and security risks of unchecked cable theft are currently failing the residents of Merafong.

The DA in Merafong has been working hard since April this year to get the authorities to collaborate in a “whole of society” approach to curb infrastructure theft and vandalism.

We met with senior South African Police Service (SAPS) officials to find out exactly how they want these crimes reported. We then received their undertaking to support our initiatives and to respond accordingly. We also met with the Executive Mayor, Nuzoko Best who undertook the cause to have the Municipal Manager (MM), Siyathemba Mdletetshe make statements to SAPS for every cable theft incident. We are grateful to residents who have responded to our calls by reporting their case numbers to us for tracking.

Sadly though, our infrastructure in Merafong is being stolen right under the noses of an unresponsive municipality and SAPS. Merafong has already had three municipal managers in the last two months. Such instability and uncertainty are bad for staff morale.

At the start of our campaign, SAPS reported at a local Community Police Forum (CPF) meeting that it appears as if all these efforts from various role players in our community are yielding results. However, the lethal combination of never-ending load shedding, an increase in food and fuel costs, and a shortage of jobs have created fertile ground for large cable theft syndicates to flourish. Recent nightly incidents include Greenspark, where residents disrupted the theft and kept guard over the cable.

See pictures here, here and here.

The Silver Street and Impala Street substations were vandalised on the 28th of November, and every morning, lists of incidents from Welverdiend are shared on various CPF groups. The Municipality is now worried that they will not have the money to pay for cable to get Welverdiend powered up again. At the time of writing, large swaths of Oberholzer are without power and both Eureka Park and Senatus retirement villages are also in the dark.

The DA in Merafong will now escalate our efforts and will take the following steps:

• At every CPF meeting, our councillors will require a full report back from SAPS.
• We will ask for a full report on each of the cases we are tracking from the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety.
• We will provide feedback to our residents and answers from these authorities on all our communications platforms.

Our DA ward councillors are inundated with complaints daily and we will continue to report cases and give feedback to the community, but the situation is dire.

In the meantime, residents are reminded to keep a vigilant lookout in their communities and report any incidences immediately to SAPS so that a case number can be dropped here for us to track.

The DA will continue to put pressure on SAPS and Merafong Municipality while we enjoin the Provincial Government. It is no excuse that cable theft is rampant everywhere in the province. Action is now required.

Please report any cases of cable theft here-

ANC bigwig scored R100 million contracts from Gauteng Hospitals

Dramatic new evidence has come to light that ANC bigwig Sello Sekhokho scored nearly R100 million in contracts from Gauteng public hospitals awarded to his three companies.

According to information by Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, 225 contracts were awarded in the last three years to Kaizen Projects, Nokhokhoko Medical Supplies, and Bollanoto Security. This totals about R84 million.

These payments were to hospitals other than Tembisa Hospital, whereas in a previous reply to my questions it was disclosed that the three companies got R14.5 million in 55 contracts from Tembisa Hospital in the last three years.

Adding them together, we get 280 contracts worth about R98.5 million awarded to Sekhokho’s three companies. He is currently the ANC Ekurhuleni Region Treasurer General.

It is poignant that this bombshell information is revealed today when the family of murdered Gauteng health official Babita Deokaran commemorate what would have been her 54th birthday.

She raised the alarm over suspicious payments to Sekhokho’s companies by Tembisa Hospital, but according to a News24 investigation, she was instructed by then Health CFO Lerato Madyo to pay the companies and keep it secret. Madyo is now suspended along with the Tembisa Hospital CEO Ashley Mthunzi, and the SIU is investigating the R850 million payments to fishy companies that Babita flagged as “possibly fraudulent.”

Nkomo-Ralehoko gives a table in her reply to me that indicates only R4.6 million paid to the companies, but this is contradicted by the appendices which indicate a far higher amount.

All the payments are under R500 000, which allows the hospital CEO to sign off the contracts instead of going out to tender.

Nkomo-Ralehoko says that none of the companies has SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) approval for the sale of medical products, and “a number of irregularities were noted after the audit/assessment of internal controls.”

A quick perusal of the payments shows blatant overcharging and fishy purchases.

Bollanoto Security provided no security services but sold a wide variety of goods and even food supplies. This includes 108 “rain suits” of various sizes for men and women, at a total cost of R1.88 million. This is R17 000 for each rain suit!

R196 000 was apparently spent on 17 v-neck jerseys – this is R11 500 per jersey.

And why on earth was R294 000 spent on socks for Tokyo Sexwale Primary School?

The food is similarly overpriced – R937 000 was spent on 1920 kg of 6mm boerewors sausage, which amounts to R488 per kg, as opposed to boerewors that can be bought for R100 per kg at a supermarket.

Gross overcharging abounds in the purchase orders of all three companies e.g. R2.5 million for 40 t-shirts provided by Nokhokhoko, and R280 000 for 27 men’s parabellum brown leather shoes.

Overpriced goods were still being bought from the companies in July this year.

It’s outrageous! It looks like a giant scam to fleece hospitals which desperately need money for decent care to patients who suffer terribly when machines are broken, staff are short, and buildings are falling apart.

I will ask further questions about which hospitals awarded the contracts as the CEOs and supply chain management officials in these hospitals should be held to account.

We also need to know whether any of the money from Sekhokho’s contracts found its way to the ANC, especially now with all the ANC conferences. The SA National Civic Organisation (SANCO) claimed in June this year that inflated payments for contracts at Tembisa Hospital were intended for vote rigging and bribery by senior ANC officials in Gauteng.

I have always suspected that there was high-level political protection for rotten officials in the Gauteng Health Department which is embroiled in endless scandals.

The Democratic Alliance demands that a freeze be put immediately on all further payments to Sekhokho’s companies. Furthermore, measures must be taken as soon as possible to get money back from his companies which benefited from massive price gouging.

We need not wait for the SIU investigation to conclude when the overcharging evidence is so obvious.

Hydroelectricity and renewable energy only solutions to rescue Gauteng from the ongoing electricity crisis

The DA is proposing that Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi urgently looks into using our dams in the province as a source of hydroelectricity, establishing a green economy war room that is mandated to look into other sources of renewable energy and provide support to municipalities so that they can procure additional electricity from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

If this is not done, we risk seeing an increase in the current unemployment rate as businesses, especially those who operate in the townships and from home will have to close their doors.

For months now, the DA has been calling on the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) to come up with a plan to mitigate the effects that loadshedding has on the province and the economy.

Gauteng businesses are at risk of having to close their doors as their profit margins are severely impacted due to the ongoing electricity crisis in the country.

The ongoing blackouts are having a negative impact on the revenue that businesses can generate which resulted in some companies retrenching workers.

For at least six hours a day, residents and businesses do not have any electricity and not everyone can afford a generator, solar panels, or inverter so that they are able to have a continued supply of electricity.

It is clear that the GPG government is missing in action as they have yet to come up with a concrete plan to minimize the impact of loadshedding on the province. The current status quo cannot remain and if Premier Lesufi is committed to ensuring that our economy grows and that more jobs are created, he will find a solution to the current loadshedding that is plaguing our province.

The DA will be using all the mechanisms in place at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to force Premier Lesufi to adopt our proposal.

Our residents deserve a government that is committed to ensuring that the wheels of the economy in this province keep on turning. If this government is not able to then it is high time that a government is installed in 2024 that is committed to creating the correct conditions for economic growth to take place.

Residents of Emfuleni continue to suffer after 4 years of Maile’s imposed administration

The Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Lebogang Maile, has admitted that his appointed administrator failed to rescue Emfuleni Local Municipality from financial distress and service delivery collapse; hence the residents continue to suffer due to a lack of adequate basic services such as water, electricity and refuse removal.

It is clear that none of the interventions implemented by MEC Maile yielded positive results, as this municipality has collapsed and is in severe financial distress.

The failed administration of Emfuleni was revealed by MEC Maile in a written reply to the DA’s questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to Maile, the key problems identified that required Emfuleni to be placed under administration are the supply chain management, finance, infrastructure/ service delivery and governance.

The MEC states that some of the problems have been addressed, but some are continuing to be addressed under section 139(5) and section 154 of the constitution.

The municipality was not financially sustainable, with a cost coverage ratio of less than one month since the 2016/17 financial year when it was placed under administration. The municipality also failed to pay creditors when due, which, individually or in the aggregate, was more than 2% of the municipality’s budgeted operating expenditure.

Furthermore, in terms of the current debt level of Emfuleni, MEC Maile states that there are no cash-backed reserves for the municipality to build a positive financial health position. The municipality has been developing and adopting budget funding plans to assist in correcting its current unfunded budget status.

There are also challenges with Rand Water and Eskom, which remains high on the risk radar as the municipality’s account is in arrears. Where payment plans are in place, there is no consistency in adhering to payments on monthly bases.

This is all because of the years of mismanagement, maladministration, corruption, and irresponsible governance that occurred under the watch of this government.

It is evident that the ANC government has failed to fix Emfuleni, yet they continue to cling to power.

The DA proposes that the new Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Mzi Khumalo, urgently outline a turnaround strategy for Emfuleni, as it currently cannot provide service delivery to its residents. This strategy should include monitoring and evaluation processes with timelines.

This will ensure that the lives of Emfuleni residents are saved after years of suffering under this current administration. The DA will continue to fight for service delivery in Emfuleni and hold the local and provincial governments accountable.

Residents were extorted to pay R200 monthly subscription to use the public Kagiso Memorial gym facility

Community facilities are meant to benefit its residents and there is no rule which says that the residents must pay a certain fee to access such facilities. However, this is not the case for Kagiso township residents as they continue to be forced to pay R200 monthly subscription fee to access Kagiso Memorial and Recreation Centre’s gym facility.

The residents have been paying a monthly subscription fee of R200 and an R150 joining fee since 2017 to utilise the gym equipment that belongs to the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR).

This money is paid to the Good Example Fitness Solution, which is operated by Mokhomotsi Phasha and Christina Maeto, who are utilising this community facility.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) MEC, Morakana Mosupyoe, in a written reply to the DA’s question tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

The DA tabled this question following numerous complaints from the concerned residents of Kagiso and following the DA’s oversight inspection at the Kagiso Memorial and Recreation Centre.

According to MEC Mosupyoe, there is no lease agreement and no contract in place between the department and Good Example Fitness Solution. However, the department had an agreement with them to utilise the venue to protect it from being vandalised. They are not paying rent to the department and the department is aware of the monies they are charging the community to access the facility.

This is unacceptable because they are utilising the department’s equipment and venue, yet they charge community members access to the facility.

This is a clear opportunistic move by the Good Example Fitness Solution to rip off poor members of the community who must be benefiting from this facility free of charge.

This is a government facility, the youth, and residents of Kagiso should not be paying to access it. There are security guards hired to safeguard this facility from being vandalised and the presence of the Good Example Fitness Solution is a way for them to enrich themselves at the expense of the residents.

The DA demands that MEC Mosupyoe must speed up the process of ensuring that this facility is fully operational and that residents access it free of charge. She must also review the agreement between the department and the Good Example Fitness Solution.

Furthermore, the DA will be writing to the Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi, to seek his urgent intervention to ensure that residents are allowed access to the Kagiso Memorial and Recreation Centre’s gym without paying these unnecessary fees.

DNA backlog: SAPS must put proactive measures in place to decrease backlog to ensure justice for the victims of GBV

Great strides are being made in reducing the current DNA backlog in Gauteng. The SAPS Forensic Lab in Pretoria indicated that the backlog for Gauteng has been reduced to 5006.

As part of the Democratic Alliance’s 16 Days of Activism for no violence against Women and Children campaign; an oversight inspection was conducted at the SAPS Forensic lab today.

See the photos here and here.

During our visit, SAPS highlighted a number of interventions that have been put in place to address this serious backlog, which has a huge impact on survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) seeing justice being metered out.

One of the systems implemented is that of flexi time, which has allowed the lab to reduce the backlog. They have also introduced a two-stream system, which means that they have one group of people working on the backlog and another working on any new cases that they received.

A concerted effort has also been made to deal with cases that fall under the category of gender-based violence.

The SAPS forensic lab in Pretoria is the main office and in order to effectively carry out their work, they need a bigger space from which to operate.

Even though the backlog has been drastically reduced and some cases are ready to go to court, there is a delay in this from the side of the Justice Department.

The Democratic Alliance will be conducting a follow-up visit in January to determine whether the measures put in place by SAPS to address the backlog have worked, as this is by when the DNA backlog needs to be cleared.

In addition, we will also be liaising with our counterparts in Parliament, so that we can address the concerns around the delays from the Justice Department in prosecuting the cases.

The scourge of gender-based violence must be rooted out and cases that are reported to the police must be investigated properly and justice served as soon as possible. A court case that drags on only traumatises the survivor further.

The focus on gender-based violence should not only be for 16 days of the year but 365 days.

MEC Chiloane must ensure that learners who applied on time are placed before the end of November

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is demanding that the Gauteng MEC for Education, Matome Chiloane, must ensure that all learners who applied on time are allocated schools before the end of November 2022. This will ensure that no learner misses a day of schooling because of the department’s incompetency and failure to place learners on time and within the stipulated deadlines.

Yesterday, MEC Matome Chiloane gave an update on the admission process and announced that the late applications for Grades 1 and 8 for the 2023 academic year will open on 20 December 2022 and closes on 20 January 2023.

We welcome the opening of late applications which will allow parents and guardians who missed the deadline to submit their children’s applications. However, we don’t believe that the late applications will be processed on time as this department has a reputation for failing learners and, many have been denied months of schooling due to late placements.

The DA proposes that only schools that have not yet reached their full capacity must be listed on the selection list to avoid raising hopes and creating pressure on schools that have reached their maximum capacity.

The MEC should be focusing on resolving placement issues for the learners who applied on time. Thousands of parents and guardians who applied on time are still waiting for SMSs to confirm the placement of their children.

Come the 2023 academic year, there should be no learner that is denied access to basic education because the department failed to allocate schools for them. The long wait and uncertainty frustrate parents who still need to buy stationery and uniforms and make transport arrangements for their children.

The DA will continue to monitor the process of learner placement to ensure that all parents and guardians who applied on time for their children receive confirmation placements before the end of this month. We will further monitor if the MEC keeps his promise to deliver mobile classrooms to high enrolment demand schools to avoid classroom overcrowding.

R215 million to fix unsafe Gauteng Hospitals is returned to Treasury

The Democratic Alliance condemns the incredible incompetence that sees the Gauteng Health Department lose R215 million to fix unsafe hospitals because they failed to spend it.

According to the adjustment budget that Gauteng Finance MEC Jacob Mamabolo unveiled last week, the “delays in the implementation of occupational health and safety infrastructure projects causes a surrender of R214.7 million to the Provincial Revenue Fund.”

This is despite the assessment that 19 out of 37 Gauteng public hospitals do not meet the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Non-compliant hospitals include the following:

Edenvale Hospital
Leratong Hospital
Yusuf Dadoo Hospital
South Rand Hospital
Far East Rand Hospital
Pholosong Hospital
Thelle Mogoerane Hospital
Mamelodi Hospital
Odi Hospital
Pretoria West Hospital
Tshwane District Hospital
Lenasia South Hospital
Heidelberg Hospital

The Department blames the underspending on the slow processing of invoices and the failure to create Purchase Orders for contracts.

Also, to blame is the corrupt and incompetent Department of Infrastructure Development as they rarely choose decent contractors who finish the job in time and within budget.

Meanwhile, patients and staff face the danger of unsafe hospitals.

This is what you get after years of ANC cadre deployment and corruption.

Former premier David Makhura promised repeatedly to “turn around” the Gauteng Health Department, and Premier Panyaza Lesufi makes the same baseless promises.

Real progress will only happen when the ANC is ejected from the provincial government.

Nyaope farm: DA warns against uneconomical use of resources

This is another example of the government’s uneconomical use of valuable resources to achieve short-term political objectives.

The Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve at some point in the past was functional and attracted tourists. It was valued at R2,9 billion in 2009.

After years of mismanagement by the Gauteng government, the reserve has been struggling to meet its full potential as a tourist destination and a source of revenue.

A botched project to install a water pipeline by the dysfunctional Infrastructure department resulted in the reserve closing its doors because of the fire risk brought about by the lack of water.

Other bulk services such as electricity and sewerage are also problematic in terms of deteriorating infrastructure. The total cost of restoring the bulk services was estimated at approximately R120 million. This amount excludes the cost of completing the failed water-line project.

Another risk this reserve presents is the poor security situation where fences are often damaged or stolen and unauthorised individuals breach the property.

Considering the poor quality of planning exhibited by the Gauteng government, one wonders whether the Premier has considered the sub-optimal use of such a valuable asset is the best decision. In addition, there is as yet no clarity as to where the budget would come from to upgrade the infrastructure and pay more than 400 staff members assigned to this programme.

Since most projects managed by this government fail, it is essential that people with the necessary planning and implementation skills be roped in to ensure that the drug programme’s laudable objectives are met. These project skills do not exist in the public sector in Gauteng.

There is a concern, that in their desperate scramble to retain power in Gauteng, the ANC will sell all the family silverware, as it were, and bankrupt the fiscus to meet their objectives.

Safety of Ekurhuleni residents under siege as murder, sexual offences and hijackings increases

The lives and livelihoods of the residents of the City of Ekurhuleni are at high risk following the recently released crime statistics by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is concerned that Ekurhuleni police stations had the most reported cases in these increased crimes nationally; specifically with regards to violent crime, including murder (13.6%), sexual offences (11%), attempted murder (19.4%) and truck hijackings (36.8%.).

Most crimes in South Africa like murder, violent crimes, sexual offences, attempted murder, and hijacking have bounced back to and exceeded pre-Covid-19 levels.

However, Gauteng SAPS has been losing ground in the battle against crime, as the lackluster leadership of the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko and Minister of Police, Bheki Cele continues.

The sharp upward trajectory in crime shows a clear indication that police stations still have a mammoth task of combatting crime on their hands. The list below shows the police stations that reported most a crime nationally:

• Tembisa ranking 4th for contact crimes,
• Tsakane and Tembisa ranking 10th and 12th for rape,
• Tembisa and Springs ranking 3rd and 17th for Trio crimes,
• Tembisa and Germiston ranking 11th and 29th for carjacking,
• Tembisa and Springs ranking 4th and 14th for robbery at residential premises,
• Brakpan, Kempton Park, Springs, Germiston, and Boksburg North are on the top 30 for robbery at non-residential premises,
• Boksburg North, Kempton Park, Alberton, Bedfordview, Germiston and Boksburg ranked in the top 30 in South Africa for truck hijacking,
• Tembisa, Boksburg North, Kempton Park, and Germiston in top 30 for kidnapping,
• Benoni and Kempton Park 28th and 29th for property-related crimes.

Tembisa, Springs, Kempton Park, Germiston, and Boksburg North are some of the police stations that have come up a number of times for all the wrong reasons.

During the #DAGautengPoliceWatch campaign, the DA observed shortages of personnel, training, and vehicles at many of Ekurhuleni’s hardest-hit stations.

It is of the utmost importance that SAPS has all the means at its disposal to combat crime, particularly in these areas that are hardest hit.

The DA demands that MEC Mazibuko must urgently intensify all efforts to deal with the high levels of crime facing the residents of Ekurhuleni. We will continue to fight to ensure that all our police stations across the province are adequately equipped to ensure the safety of our residents.