It was unfair for aggrieved residents to vandalise and target the properties of ward councillors, since they do not have powers and resources to deliver services, a political analyst has said.
Mamelodi ward 15 ANC councillor Mmina-Tau Marishane was the latest target when his office was torched and an attempted arson at his home on Friday night.
The attack was allegedly a retaliation by those angered by a court ruling which ordered them to vacate a recently completed 250-unit block of flats near Nellmapius they had illegally occupied.
MEC for cooperative governance, traditional affairs and human settlements, Lebogang Maile, visited the small charred building yesterday to assess the damage.
“The whole structure… still looks sound and can be renovated. But that is not the point. The point is that a crime has been committed and we have to get to the bottom of it,” he said.
But this was not the first time this office was set alight, Maile said.
“It can’t be right that people who have been elected by communities to represent them don’t feel safe where they live. We want to urge members of the communities to work with the councillors and to also bring whatever information they have at their disposal to the law enforcement agencies,” said the MEC.
Attacking and vandalising the homes of councillors was not an unusual phenomenon. In September last year, six ANC councillors’ homes were set ablaze during violent service delivery protests in Khuma township outside Stilfontein, North West.
These sporadic attacks were due to unhappiness by residents under the perception that the specific councillor was responsible for poor service delivery, political analyst Prince Mashele said.
But councillors were just a bridge between residents and the municipality who go before council to bargain for the communities’ needs. Councillors do not have the power to allocate resources to residents, Mashele said.
“Councillors have to be brutally open with their communities in explaining the limitations that are there,” he said.