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City of Cape Town could incur R1m legal bill for waste management director’s disciplinary hearing

City of Cape Town could incur R1m legal bill for waste management director’s disciplinary hearing
Luzuko Mdunyelwa, suspended executive director responsible for waste management. (Photo: Supplied) | Filth piles up in Cape Town townships following the collapse of waste collection services. (Photo: Velani Ludidi)

Sources at the hearing, which began last week and is scheduled for 10 days, said the two senior counsel cost R40,000 each per day and the attorney almost R30,000 a day.

The City of Cape Town has hired top lawyers for the disciplinary hearing against the suspended executive director responsible for waste management, Luzuko Mdunyelwa, including two senior counsel and a senior attorney.

Sources at the hearing said the senior counsels cost R40,000 each per day and the attorney almost R30,000 a day.

The hearing, which began last week and sits behind closed doors, is scheduled for 10 days, which means the city could incur legal costs of more than R1-million, excluding printing, telephone and preparation costs. The hearing sat for its fourth day on Wednesday.

When approached to respond to questions about the hearing and the costs involved, the metro declined to comment, saying that it was following due process and could not speak on the matter currently.

“The City is following due process and cannot speak on the matter currently.”

Mdunyelwa was suspended after the collapse of waste management in areas of the city including Khayelitsha, Philippi and Nyanga.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cape Town waste management director suspended as communities drown in trash

Daily Maverick understands that at a special confidential meeting last month, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis confirmed that contractors were hired to help collect waste from townships across Cape Town, at a cost of about R500-million. The contracts, which were renewed monthly, started in July 2021 and ran until June 2023.

Waste collection in informal settlements has largely been conducted by external service providers, but rubbish continued to pile up in and around the Mother City. The municipality had to use its staff to remove rubbish in areas where contractors had been hired to do the job.

The mayor confirmed that he had heard the rumours that administrators, including directors, were benefiting financially from the hiring of contractors. 

“I have heard this rumour, of course, but I have received no specific complaint or any evidence. If any is forthcoming it will certainly be investigated,” he said in response to questions from Daily Maverick.

Extortion rackets

The municipality had received 18,902 complaints regarding waste collection, 38% of which were from areas serviced by contractors between July 2021 and June 2023.

Extortion rackets in some communities caused companies to ditch contracts over concerns for their workers’ safety.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cape Town waste collection companies ditch contracts following deadly shooting, threats and extortion

Mdunyelwa has been in local government for the past 25 years as a senior official and worked for the City of Cape Town for more than a decade.

A source inside the municipality claimed that Mdunyelwa was a scapegoat for the rot in the council.

“In June 2023, the city presented a new waste management plan and received approval. However, the city manager decided against it for reasons only known to him,” said the source, who asked to be quoted anonymously. 

The source claimed that two forensic reports on the matter that were tabled in council gave no reference to Mdunyelwa, yet he was now at the centre of the conflict.

While the municipality has not disclosed what charges Mdunyelwa is facing, during the special meeting where Hill-Lewis proposed the suspension, he blamed Mdunyelwa for the collapse of waste collection and said the municipality was not getting value for the millions paid to contractors. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cape Town mayor moves to suspend director following collapse of waste management

The city manager, Lungelo Mbandazayo, was one of the first people to testify at Mdunyelwa’s disciplinary hearing. All testimonies are confidential and will not be made public. 

The metro confirmed that areas affected by the lack of waste removal were again using contracted services.  

Daily Maverick understands that the municipality is looking to do away with service providers for cleaning communities and move these services in-house. 

The city’s plans include:

  • Piloting the insourcing of the removal of waste from informal settlements;
  • A three-year community-based project, specifically giving residents in informal settlements an opportunity to take responsibility for their communities;
  • Job creation in informal areas, leading to 3,308 work opportunities; and
  • Improving the informal settlement community environment in terms of cleanliness and hygiene. DM
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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Peter Atller says:

    No wonder regions outside the city limits looked like a pig sty.. And why is the political lead for urban waste management in the city not being investigated , for failure to perform oversight? The collapse happened under his watch.

  • Ben Harper says:

    So?

  • Ben Wilson says:

    Why is this a supposed outrage. Consequences cost money. And there has to be consequences. One cannot leave it to chance and get a mediocre representation only to have the City loose on a technicality and this person reinstated by court order only to continue doing absolutely nothing to justify his salary.

    No OUT WITH ROT AT ALL COSTS!

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