Outspoken manager of Dr JS Moroka local municipality in Mpumalanga, Thambi Kubheka, survived an attempt on his life, less than a month into his tenure.
He had pulled the plug on a large construction project that had dragged on for years and accused the municipality of rampant abuse of its resources.
Kubheka, who took the position in the embattled municipality in March, said the assassination attempt had happened two weeks after his appointment and led to him being assigned bodyguards.
“I was driving from work when I noticed a car following me. Moments later the vehicle started driving at speed and I sped off. They lost control of the vehicle and almost hit a rock. I then heard gunshots as I sped away,” he said.
Kubheka said the problem started when he stopped a contract to build a fresh produce market in Maphothla village, which had been started more than a decade ago, with more than R40 million already spent on it.
The budget in May last year allocated R3 million to the project but the following month, during the budget adjustment, another R5 million was set aside for it.
“This was despite the R8 million advanced by the provincial government the previous year,” Kubheka said.
This is just one of the shocking claims of mismanagement he has raised at a municipality battling to deliver basic services.
The municipality has not functioned for almost a week following a special council sitting during which a motion to get rid of Kubheka was defeated, although, according to Nneni Msiza, ANC member in the municipality, speaker Rhoda Sazi Mathabe announced it had been adopted and that Kubheka would be suspended.
“The community vowed to prevent officials from entering the offices until the matter was resolved. Those who want him to go are those benefitting from corruption,” he said.
Mathabe refused to comment.
Kubheka lies, says mayor
Executive mayor of Dr JS Moroka local municipality in Mpumalanga William Thulare Madileng said he had asked manager Thambi Kubheka to compile a report to take to council for a resolution, but nothing has come forth.
“I said to him give us a report on the issues you are raising because, some of them we are aware of, so that a proper process unfolds. All he does is make these allegations to feed the narrative that I am corrupt. What is it that I am supposed to do?”
He said Kubheka has turned himself into “a superhero manager”, ignoring proper processes to be followed in dealing with such findings, and that his “defiance” has inflamed the community against him and his executive.
Madileng said it was a lie that the motion to put Kubheka on suspension was defeated.
“I am also being threatened because he has painted me and my executive [as] corrupt but everything must be tabled in council, which is a highly regulated space,” the mayor said.