A case of malicious damage to municipal property has been opened against Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga after the municipality demolished beachfront braai stands on Friday to deter beachgoers and prevent Covid-19 spread.
The case was opened at the Humewood police station on Wednesday by Patriotic Alliance councillor Marlon Daniels.
This was confirmed by police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu.
Daniels told News24 he opened the case to show Bhanga and the DA that they are not above the law of the country.
Bhanga had told New24 on Tuesday the decision to close the recreational facility was taken in conjunction with the metro’s coronavirus command council.
Daniels said the decision was not taken by the council, or even the coalition government, but Bhanga unilaterally “vandalised” municipal property.
“I have spoken to some of the coalition partners and they confirmed to me that they were not consulted in the decision to execute what he did over the weekend,” said Daniels.
“Besides that, if ever such a decision needs to be taken to demolish municipal property, such decision shall be taken in council, where all lawmakers congregate to discuss matters of local government. There was no council meeting called and there was no council resolution that those braai stands must be demolished,” said Daniels.
He said this makes Bhanga’s decision illegal, unlawful and, for that, he must be brought before the court of law.
Daniels said Bhanga must be found liable for fruitless and wasteful expenditure because taxpayers’ money was used to build the facility that had been demolished.
The criminal case is the latest attack aimed at the Nelson Mandela Bay coalition government led by Bhanga.
Daniels also accused the DA of trying to chase people of colour away from the facility, which is situated in a predominantly white ward.
Bhanga had told New24 on Tuesday that the order was to flood the entrance to the park with huge rocks, and that when the driver noticed the plan wasn’t working, he destroyed the braai stands to use the material to block the entrance.
He defended the driver, saying he only demolished braai stands that were already ailing, adding that the city was planning to give the area a facelift anyway.
Bhanga said the action had to be taken to prevent the possibility of infections.
He said initially a fence was erected to keep people at bay, but it had been removed.
Bhanga said over 5,000 people flocked to Hobie beach over the weekend, not wearing masks or social distancing.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber called the move vandalism of municipal property.
The ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay said the DA government had made a mockery of the people of the metro.
Bhanga could not be reached for comment on the criminal case at the time of writing on Wednesday.