Nkandla mayor and officials arrested for breaching lockdown regulations
Nkandla mayor Thami Ntuli has cried foul play after he was arrested for breaching national lockdown regulations on Thursday.
Speaking to TimesLIVE on Friday, Ntuli — who is also the provincial chairperson of the IFP — said the municipality had embarked on a programme to hand out food parcels and hand sanitiser to street vendors.
He and six other municipal officials, including his deputy and the council speaker, were confronted by police. In total, said SAPS spokesman Brig Vish Naidoo on Friday evening, 20 people were arrested.
Seven of that group were granted bail of R1,000 each, while the other 13 paid an admission of guilt fine of R1,500 each.
The seven - all municipal officials, were charged for contravention of the regulations of the Disaster Management Act, said Nadioo.
"The group alleged to have initiated a gathering by providing food to the gathering. The crowd became unruly and the local police were called in. Police could only contain the crowd by requesting that the food be removed," said Naidoo.
Ntuli gave his version of events to TimesLIVE on Friday afternoon.
“We had gone to a local taxi rank to hand out some of these parcels to the street vendors — many of whom have been severely affected during this lockdown,” he said.
Ntuli said the taxi rank was bustling when they arrived, with a number of commuters waiting for transport.
“We told the vendors to come one by one, collect their parcels and go back to their stands,” he said.
However, he said a crowd began to gather once they saw the municipality was handing out the parcels.
“We decided to close the programme and head back to the municipal offices. I then received a call from the local police informing me that they had received an instruction from above to arrest me and the municipal officials who were part of the programme,” he said.
Ntuli, the deputy mayor, speaker of the municipality and four other municipal officials drove to the police station where they were required to give a statement before being granted R1,000 station bail.
“The sad part is that they also arrested 13 of the street vendors and made them sign an admission of guilt fine of R1,500. I doubt those people even knew what they were signing for.”
He claimed that the instruction was definitely politically motivated.
“The premier [Sihle Zikalala] was in Umlazi on Wednesday doing the same thing,” he charged.
He said the decision to stop the programme had left many people without anything for the Easter long weekend.
“Someone thinks they're the only one's who can go out and support people who are starving. They seem to think these people must starve until they come to help them.”
He said the municipality was planning on continuing with the programme in the future.
Ntuli and the other officials are expected to appear in court on May 19.