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Love them or hate them, toy guns are just that: replicas of the real thing, only used as toys by children when playing cops and robbers or similar games. It is absurd to think they could be used in the protection of state assets.

But in the North West, guards belonging to a security firm contracted by the Matlosana Local Municipality are expected to carry out their duties armed with these useless items, which means they are in great danger when criminals arrive with real metal killer machines. Our zero for this week, therefore, is Matlosana for its very costly oversight in the delivery of security services paid for by taxpayers.

Tshireletso Professional Services is contracted to Matlosana, according to a recent report by the Sowetan, and is guilty of arming its guards with paintball guns instead of the real thing. As a result, several robberies have occurred under Tshireletso’s watch, proving that they are no match for criminals who come in with real guns blazing.

According to the newspaper, as much as R820 000 worth of property was stolen and destroyed at the municipality’s various water treatment plants while Tshireletso was in charge of security. This was revealed in an audit report of the municipality that covered the year between July 2014 and the end of May 2015. Tshireletso has been in the employ of the municipality for just under two years.

“The audit report found Tshireletso in breach of contract and recommended termination of the contract for ‘under/non-performance’. However, the security company is still providing service,” read the Sowetan report.

“One of Tshireletso’s guards in Stilfontein told the newspaper that criminals sometimes come carrying real guns and the he has to climb up the tree to hide from them.”

Tshireletso has been paid R25-million for its services over the past 22 months, the report reveals.

Troubled municipality

Matlosana has been under great financial pressure for some time, failing in many of its municipal obligations in the process. The municipality was officially placed under administration by the provincial department of local government and human settlements. A similar intervention was imposed a year earlier, but limited only to its financial affairs.

When the first move did not yield results, MEC Collen Maine said: “We have not seen any change because the administrator was not in charge of the entire municipal administration. The municipality still owes Eskom over R200-million and Midvaal Water over R50-million.”

“There is still lack of good governance; there are infightings and divisions, something which is affecting [the] provision of services to communities. We are now invoking a fully blown Section 139 (1) (b) for the administrator to be in full control of the municipality.”

The administration period was to run for six months, from January 2015. The same intervention had been undertaken in November 2013 by then minister of corporative governance and traditional affairs, Lechesa Tsenoli. This period was extended in July 2014 by the North West executive committee.

At the time, Maine said the exco approved additional funding for a forensic investigation into alleged maladministration, corruption and contravention of supply chain processes in the Matlosana Local Municipality.

In a report by the New Age newspaper in July this year, Matlosana’s administrator Seth Ramagaga revealed that, as part of the municipality’s turnaround strategy, several projects were planned to improve revenue enhancement and indigent management, among other things.

The municipality also managed to secure a payment arrangement with Eskom to settle its debt, by making monthly contributions to its accounts.