The Mayor who conned RDP house-owner, pocketed the rent and walks free as a bird

There are politicians. And then there’s Ken Denysschen. Son of the Durban City midfielder with the same distinctive name, young Ken has the Helen Suzman-like task of injecting sanity in the severely dysfunctional Mpofana Municipality. As the sole Democratic Alliance Councillor, he gets a taste every day of what Suzman experienced for 13 years as the only MP who totally opposed  Apartheid. Denysschen Junior has clearly inherited his famous footballing father’s courage. He pens a regular newsletter to constituents, exposing the inner workings of a set-up so incompetent that would be laughable were it not so reflective of Small Town South Africa. In his latest missive, he exposes the Mayor of  Mpofana for conning the rightful owner of an RDP house, renting it out and pocketing the cash. Denysschen came across this example almost by chance. One gets the sense from the stonewalled reaction both from inside the Municipality and higher up, that this is the tip of a corrupt Mooi River iceberg. The norm for how things are done in rural SA. Remember this story when next you see people toy-toying over service delivery. – AH          

By Ken Denysschen*

The MEC for Finance, Ina Cronje, recently visited Mooi River to tell people how to save and take care of their finances. I find

Ken Denysschen – a Don Quixote in dysfunctional rural South Africa

this insulting to say the least. Why has she not rather spent that time and energy, not to mention the astronomical cost to taxpayers, and applied it to the financial matters of the Municipality? Given the high level of unemployment in Mpofana and the large number who live on or below the breadline, job creation initiatives are more important than wasting money on food and entertainment to a select few. Clearly the ANC leadership is out of touch with the people on the ground.

Over the past few weeks I have put a number of questions to the Mayor (of Mpofana) and acting MM (Municipal Manager) without reply. Some of the questions have serious implications. Failure to respond, to me seems acknowledgement of guilt in some cases.

One such case involves accusations that the Mayor received rent for a RDP house they did not own. I put this to the Mayor on 15 July 2013 and have yet to have a reply.

Around 18 months ago I was approached by a Councillor who had been approached by a lady who had received a lawyer’s letter for unpaid services for a house she owned in Bruntville. This lady (known to me) stated that she did not own a property in Bruntville so was confused as to how she owed money for services. I advised the Councillor to check with the deeds office owned the property and to question the inhabitants of the property. From what I was told at the time, the inhabitants said they were renting the property from the current Mayor.

According to the rightful owner of the house, when the title deeds were handed over she was told that even though she had applied for a house, there were not enough houses and she would be put on the next list. This lady has since let Bruntville and thought no more of it until she was served with legal papers for recovery of debt. As neither the lady involved nor the Councillor were prepared to give me proof of what had happened I could not take the issue further.

I recently requested a report on all pre-paid meters that had not been recharged for more than 60 days. Whilst alarming that there are approximately 1980 meters that have not been recharged in the last 60 days this is a report of all meters which include those that have been removed or where ownership has been changed. Thankfully so. Or I would not have seen that the Mayor has a pre-paid electricity meter in their name at the exact address that I was made aware of approximately 18 months ago.

As the tenants at that time refused to speak to me, I decided to go back to the property with the evidence I have and confront them for non-payment of the meter. I was surprised to find a new tenant, a nephew of the owner living there. This person confirmed my story and said they had evicted the illegal tenants and reclaimed the house which he was now occupying on behalf of his aunt who lived outside of Mpofana. He also told me that he had transferred the electricity meter into his name, which then put the name of the current mayor on the “outstanding” list.

I am not one to believe in co-incidences so with the above information I questioned the Mayor in a letter dated 15 July 2013 as to whether she had in fact received rent illegally and to explain why this meter was in this house under her name. In true ANC fashion I have not had an answer. To me, if this were not true the Mayor would have said so and given a plausible explanation.

All the current Councillors have said that the previous Councillors were in some way profiting from this kind of action.

They also suspect some officials were involved which would explain why the previous municipal manager was reluctant to investigate my request into the ownership of the RDP houses in Bruntville. I requested a full forensic investigation through a motion in a full Council meeting which has never been looked into. One can now clearly see why. I believe the previous Municipal Manager was aware of this and was part of the cover up.

As many of you will recall, I have made numerous statements where I have said Council resolutions and council instructions to management have gone unheeded. It seems that is still the case with the recent strike action. After the first strike, Council instructed management to issue an ultimatum to the striking workers to go back to work or the no work no pay rule would be enforced. For some reason this was not done and the workers continue to be paid while not at work. Not only this but they still have full use of municipal vehicles for their private use. I have reported several cases to management but have seen no results.

On the 17th July 2013 I wrote to the Mayor and Municipal Manager demanding they take control of this Municipality and hold not only workers but management to account for the poor state of the Municipality. Given the recent strike, this too was ignored and the residents have had to bear the brunt of this action.

Lies, deceit and general incompetence are the order of the day when it comes to this Municipality.

* Ken Denysschen is a Don Quixote in a rural South Africa littered with damaged windmills. The DA Councillor on the Mpofana District Municipality (Mooi River, KZN) he shares an insider’s view on abuses by those controlling Small Town SA.

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