EDITORIAL | ‘Safe city’ bumble does us no favours
If there is one thing we have learnt about mayor Mongameli Bobani in our interaction with him as a newspaper over the years – from his time as a lone UDM councillor in the opposition benches to his rise as the number one citizen – he is never short of sound bites.
He increasingly built an image in the media as one who shoots from the hip, with little regard for the impact or consequences of his words.
As an opposition councillor, he could get away with saying just about anything.
But in the hot seat as leader of our city, not so much.
Highlighting some of the coalition government’s accomplishments and challenges since taking over in August 2018, Bobani told a gathering of journalists on Wednesday that Nelson Mandela Bay is one of the safest cities in the country.
He provided no statistics or police report to back up this assertion.
Pressed by a reporter of this newspaper on what he based this claim, Bobani passed the buck, asking the mayoral committee member in charge of safety and security, Litho Suka, to answer.
Suka said: “It’s important to note that the mayor is speaking about the entire five-month period. The recent killings in the metro are only happening now. Before that there was not much crime in the city.”
We beg to differ.
Hardly a day goes by in Helenvale, Bethelsdorp and New Brighton that a person is not killed.
And if it’s not a violent death, residents are robbed in their homes, women are raped and motorists hijacked.
This is the everyday lived experience of being a resident in our beautiful city.
With his comments, Bobani has demonstrated that he is either completely out of touch with the reality of the high levels of crime in our city, or he chose to use the platform, disingenuously, to score meaningless political points.
Nonetheless, it backfired.
The scourge of crime in this city is no political matter to be foolish about.
Every day our lives are at risk.
With his bumbling statement, Bobani has undermined the collective message of residents that seeks to define this violence for what it really is – a deadly national crisis.