Politics can be a dirty business and a dangerous career, as the newly elected officials who govern our city are discovering.
Over the past few years The Herald has reported on councillors’ cars set alight, homes petrol-bombed, offices burgled and threatening phone calls, all of which are frightening enough.
Today, DA councillor Dean Biddulph reveals that he and his wife have been receiving sinister death threats along with hundreds of SMSes from an unknown source.
Whether or not the person behind these criminal acts is mentally ill or a thug, the threats must be taken as real and not discounted as DA hysteria or paranoia.
After all, more than half of the ANC’s 33 ward councillors last year were assigned security guards precisely due to this kind of intimidation. And those guards were proven necessary, with reports of one or two of the security detail having been shot and wounded.
In other incidents, one Uitenhage councillor received a bullet in the post and the threats have at times translated into murder. Two years ago ANC councillor Buyisile Mkavu was shot dead, apparently as he was on the verge of uncovering massive corruption in the human settlements department.
Then, ahead of this year’s municipal election, ANC councillor candidate Nceba Dywili was gunned down and killed in Zwide.
It matters little which party you belong to because no public servant who takes his or her task of improving service delivery and rooting out corruption is exempt.
As the new mayoral committee representative for corporate services, Biddulph will certainly be scrutinising human resources at the municipality. Many metro appointments have been the subject of court challenges and wrangles and, when people’s income is threatened, things can get ugly.
We do not know what is behind this most recent spate of threats to Biddulph but we hope professional detective work will track down and nail the perpetrators.
It is simply not acceptable for the police not to catch the culprits. We cannot have councillors and municipal officials afraid to do their jobs due to intimidation or threats of violence.