Councillors went by air instead of free train journey
Two senior Buffalo City ANC councillors allegedly used ratepayers’ money to settle their travel and hotel expenses even while premier Phumulo Masualle had secured a free train trip to the event.
Times Media has seen a bill from BCM’s travel agency, Aloe Travel, for hotel accommodation, flight bookings and car hire for Sindiswa Gomba, Ayanda Mapisa and former Ward 37 ANC councillor Nokuku Marwanqa.
Gomba, who is still a councillor, was the outgoing women’s caucus chair, while Mapisa is serving a second term as the Ward 8 councillor.
The trio were no longer metro councillors when they travelled to Pretoria in August to take part in the 60th anniversary celebrations of the 1956 women’s march against the pass laws.
Times Media has seen the memo Gomba wrote to deputy mayor Zoliswa Matana, who was the outgoing speaker at the time, asking for funding for the trio’s travelling costs.
Head of special programmes Ncumisa Sidukwana later paid the R27 000 bill, which included R12 095 for their two-night stay at the Southern Sun hotel in Pretoria, a R15 258 bill for flights between East London and OR Tambo International Airport as well as R2 527 for a car Gomba hired while in Pretoria.
The scandal comes a few months after it was revealed that Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi and her counterpart at Arts and Culture, Pemmy Majodina, flew to the same event while 1 000 women, including 100 officials, undertook the 24-hour journey by train.
The train trip was meant to be a re-enactment of the journey taken by thousands of women in 1956 to protest against pass laws enforced during the apartheid era.
Masualle’s office coordinated the event and assigned all six district municipalities and the two metros to recruit 900 women to take the train trip.
In a letter addressed to all the affected municipalities, the office of the director-general said the delegation of 1 000 women would travel by two trains.
Subsequently, special programmes portfolio committee head councillor Ayanda Peter drafted a memo and tabled it to the BCM council, seeking then mayor Alfred Mtsi’s stamp of approval for the metro to coordinate the trip.
One of the trains departed from East London on August 8 and went via Queenstown to Pretoria, while the other collected the special passengers from Port Elizabeth station to travel via Cookhouse to Pretoria.
In his approval of the trip, Mtsi wrote: “Approved subject to no financial implications to the municipality for travelling and meals to the national event.”
But on the same day (July 29), Matana defied Mtsi’s orders and asked Sidukwana’s office to book flights, accommodation and car hire for the trio’s Pretoria trip.
They left East London on August 8 and returned on August 10, having received hot meals from the hotel while the 1 000 women who boarded the trains survived on prepared food parcels.
When asked who would be held liable for this wasteful and irregular expenditure, BCM spokesman Sibusiso Cindi said the metro was not aware of this.
“[The] BCM is grateful that you have bought this matter to our attention and we promise to look into it and take the necessary steps to see it is resolved amicably,” Cindi said.
Gomba, Matana, Marwanqa and Mapisa could not be reached for comment. They did not respond to SMSes either.