‘Be warned damn woman.’ Chilling death threat sent to KZN municipal boss

Richmond municipal manager Bongiwe Mnikathi‚ who took over as municipal manager from Sibusiso Sithole in August last year‚ has opened a case at the Alexander Police Station in Pietermaritzburg after receiving the threatening message
Richmond municipal manager Bongiwe Mnikathi‚ who took over as municipal manager from Sibusiso Sithole in August last year‚ has opened a case at the Alexander Police Station in Pietermaritzburg after receiving the threatening message
Image: 123RF / Slaven Devic

“Listen‚ who do you think you are? It seems like you will suffer the same fate as Sithole. You are not a piece of meat that cannot be swallowed‚ if you are going to be a stumbling block in my way‚ you will see. Be warned damn woman.”

That was the chilling‚ anonymous text message sent to embattled Richmond municipal manager Bongiwe Mnikathi‚ who is currently facing disciplinary action for numerous charges - including how over R200‚000 of council money was spent on furniture and food.

Mnikathi‚ who took over as municipal manager from Sibusiso Sithole in August last year‚ has opened a case at the Alexander Police Station in Pietermaritzburg after receiving the threatening message on Friday.

SAPS KZN spokesman Captain Nqobile Gwala didn't respond to queries about the threatening message.

Mnikathi’s predecessor‚ Sithole‚ was gunned down in broad daylight in March this year in the small KwaZulu-Natal Midlands town once ravaged by political violence.

She didn't respond to queries‚ but reportedly told a daily Durban newspaper that she feared for her life after receiving the text message.

“I am concerned. In fact‚ I am scared. There is no way you cannot be scared when the person before you was killed in broad daylight‚” she said.

The text message‚ written in isiZulu and which has since gone viral‚ went on to warn Mnikathi that she might not live until October 8‚ and that it would help if she did not disrupt a phase 3 project “so that we can get along well”.

“You must say if you have a problem because it’s clear you do have a problem‚ and we know all your travels and your family will lose you‚ so just leave us alone‚” read the message.

The text ended chillingly: “Ulibambe lingashoni.” This is an isiZulu warning loosely translated as “do not let the sun go down”.

Phase 3 relates to a tender awarded recently to upgrade a dirt road in Simozomeni in Richmond.

Mnikathi has tightened security around her after receiving the death threats.

In July‚ Mnikathi was put on a precautionary suspension pending an investigation into allegations of maladministration‚ manipulation of supply chain management processes‚ intimidation of staff‚ failure to attend public and council meetings without valid reason‚ and bringing the municipality to near collapse.

However‚ Mnikathi was granted an interim high court order which overturned her suspension and the matter will be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in November.

Further charges were added against her in August after the municipality wanted her to explain how the council’s credit card was used to buy alcohol worth R20‚000 from a retail store.

The total municipal money spent on household goods‚ including furniture and food‚ using the municipal credit card from wholesalers‚ was reportedly R200‚000.

The municipality is reportedly forging ahead with the process‚ which began on Monday‚ to bring about 22 charges against Mnikathi.

Richmond municipal spokesman Sbonelo Bhengu said they were not made aware of the threats against Mnikathi from her.

“We only learnt about it from the media. On Friday she came to work with more than 19 bodyguards which are not known to the municipality‚” he said.

Richmond speaker Samora Ndlovu said: “My understanding is that a municipal official is supposed to inform the municipality when they have received death threats‚ so that the municipality‚ as the employer‚ can see if we have to do a risk assessment. But in this case the municipal manager has not informed us and maybe she is still going to inform us.”

Mnikathi has faced revolt from municipal workers and community members who have demanded that she be axed.

Former members of the ANC military wing‚ Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association‚ and the ANC Youth League have also been calling for Mnikathi’s head after accusing her of not responding to their demands for jobs‚ tenders and government houses.

The threat against Mnikathi‚ which appears to be related to the Phase 3 tender‚ comes just days after the report into the Moerane Commission of Inquiry into political killings in the province was publicly released by Premier Willies Mchunu.

The commission found that there was overwhelming evidence from the majority of witnesses that access to resources through the tender system was the main root cause of the murder of politicians.

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