Nelson Mandela Bay politics appears to be becoming increasingly volatile and violent. In the latest incident, officials from the Auditor General were forced to flee the municipal offices.
On Thursday, the Auditor General’s office told News24 that it had withdrawn its audit team, which was conducting the annual regularity audit, with immediate effect.
AG spokesperson Africa Boso said the decision to remove auditors stemmed from the team receiving an anonymous sealed envelope that contained newspaper clippings the office believed were meant to threaten the team.
A Weekend Post article related to the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) formed part of the clippings.
“We understood this to be a threat to our team and decided to withdraw the team for their safety, as well as to alert the leadership of the municipality of the corrosive conditions that are starting to flow into and interfere with the work of auditors. We have requested a meeting with the mayor and other senior officials of the municipality to discuss the safety of our employees,” Boso added.
In recent weeks, at least six councillors – including council Speaker Buyelwa Mafaya – have alleged that they were threatened at some stage.
An ANC insider in council said Mafaya had received phone calls threatening her against convening a special council meeting.
The council meeting was convened to debate a motion of no confidence against Mayor Mongameli Bobani.
On Wednesday afternoon, Mafaya’s bodyguard answered her phone and told News24 that she had collapsed from stress as a result of the threats.
Mafaya was admitted to hospital overnight, the bodyguard told News24.
In a case of mistaken identity, Mafaya allegedly escaped a deadly threat when her neighbours’ home was shot at, in what was believed to be an attempt on her life.
Speaking to the SABC, Mafaya said she feared for her life.
ANC regional task team convener Luyolo Nqakula told News24 that at least four of the party’s councillors had reported being threatened and intimidated.
“There is something going on which is criminal in nature and it has certain political objectives it wants to achieve. It’s a direct insult to the Constitution,” Nqakula said.
On the day of the council meeting on Monday, Deputy Mayor Thsonono Buyeye had claimed that he had received a threatening phone call and text message, telling him not to support the motion.
In September, Mafaya cancelled a council sitting, claiming she had received intelligence from the police advising her against convening a meeting.
In June, Patriotic Alliance MMC for economic development, tourism and agriculture Marlon Daniels expressed concern that he may be in danger over a budget vote.
Daniels said he had received death threats against him and his family if he did not approve the 2019/20 budget.
In August, DA Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga claimed he had been threatened. He said two cars chased him in what he believes was an assassination attempt.
Bhanga said, since Bobani assumed office, there had been no peace in the metro. Bhanga told News24 that Cope councillor Siyasanga Sijadu had also received threats.
“Nelson Mandela Bay is a gangster state, were SMME’s are used to intimidate people and the mayor is silent.”
Efforts to reach Bobani were unsuccessful.