Many tough questions await Nelson Mandela Bay’s DA Mayor Nqaba Bhanga after birthday car crash
Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Nqaba Bhanga, who spent days under sedation following a car crash after curfew on Saturday night, will face questions about his conduct and the official municipal documents that were allegedly found on the scene.
Nqaba Bhanga, the Nelson Mandela Bay executive mayor and the DA’s Eastern Cape leader, was meant to be woken up on Wednesday afternoon after he was injured in a horror car crash that claimed the lives of two people after curfew on Saturday, which was Bhanga’s 44th birthday.
Many questions surround the accident, including about what looked like tender documentation found on the scene.
A week before the accident, the DA in KwaZulu-Natal wrote to the province’s Premier Sihle Zikalala after a series of posts on social media showing the MEC for Health in the province, Nomagugu Simelane, celebrating her birthday at a party with little distancing and no masks.
“If the MEC of Health, no less, does not believe the rules apply to her, then she cannot continue to lead or be the face of KZN’s campaign against the pandemic. She is not fit to hold office if she cannot lead by example. The Democratic Alliance believes that this action has again placed the entire Cabinet and provincial government in disrepute,” the letter read.
“Premier, if this is as claimed, a birthday celebration for the MEC, and, if you are serious about accountability, we strongly request that you take action against the MEC immediately,” the letter continued.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, Bhanga’s spokesperson Leander Kruger said they were “not aware” of the mayor’s movements on Saturday night.
Police spokesperson Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said that detectives were investigating charges of culpable homicide after the Saturday night accident.
The crash happened at the intersection of St Leonards Drive and Uitenhage Road. Two vehicles were involved. One was Bhanga’s Mercedes-Benz. The two passengers in the other vehicle, an Audi, Sandile Ronald Sicolo (39) and Nonzwakazi Maho (44), were identified by the police only on Monday and Tuesday. They died at the scene.
Bhanga was taken to Netcare Greenacres Hospital on Saturday. Initially, it was announced that he was not badly injured. But by Sunday he had surgery to stop internal bleeding and has been kept under sedation since.
Kruger said doctors had confirmed that the mayor’s surgery on Sunday evening was successful. Bhanga was still in high care and remained sedated until Wednesday when it was understood that doctors would bring him back to consciousness.
Kruger said Bhanga’s condition was stable and he was steadily improving, but had not been in a condition to make a statement to the police.
“The SAPS have confirmed that an investigation is under way; this is standard procedure in an instance such as this. The mayor and the mayor’s office will provide full cooperation with law enforcement.
“The full details of the incident are not yet known, nor the details of any documents at the scene or who they belong to. We are unable to speculate until further details become known and the investigation is concluded.
“All councillors are deemed essential workers in terms of the lockdown regulations, and are issued with permits to enable them to carry out their work during curfew, should the need arise,” Kruger said.
He said the United Democratic Front’s Luxolo Namette, the deputy mayor, would act as mayor while Bhanga recovers.
Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape Andrew Whitfield said they had not been able to speak to Bhanga and it was “most frustrating”.
“We are treating this very seriously. There is no DA member who is above the law,” Whitfield said.
Bhanga has a history of vehicle accidents in Nelson Mandela Bay.
In 2020 The Herald reported on a recommendation that he be disciplined for asking his bodyguard to use a municipal vehicle to fetch his girlfriend, related to an incident in October 2017 when his bodyguard was involved in an accident in which two people were killed.
Last week Bhanga was officially announced as the DA’s mayoral candidate for the upcoming local government elections.
A few days beforehand several voice notes were circulated in the city claiming that Bhanga had assaulted his girlfriend and was involved with corrupt people. Bhanga said that he had been blackmailed to drop investigations into corruption in the metro, but had refused to do so. DM/MC
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