West Cape News (Cape Town)

South Africa: City Official Received Death Threats From Contractor, Officials Claim

A senior City of Cape Town official has been receiving death threats following a civil dispute with an owner of a company that was awarded a two year tender to supply electrical switchboards to the City.

City of Cape Town Executive Deputy Mayor Ian Nielson and City Manager Achmat Ebrahim, accompanied by city attorneys, today announced that the City was aware of the allegations of death threats made against a senior city official deployed in the supply and chain management.

Nielson and Ebrahim said the death threats had been made by Merle Peters, who is the owner of electric switchboard manufacturing company Joffe Switchboards CC.

Nielson said they had first consulted with city's attorneys before disclosing the nature of the threats and publicly disclosing the name and company of the person who allegedly made the death threats.

"Mrs Peters' company is currently engaged in a civil dispute with the City with respect to a contract and the threat against a City employee was allegedly made in this context," said Nielson.

Meanwhile, the city official concerned - whose name Neilson and Ebrahim did not want to disclose in order to protect his safety - has been provided with City's VIP security personnel to safeguard him around the clock.

"We can't have a situation where a city official is threatened because they are doing their job. The City will stand by its employees in all circumstances," said Nielson

Ebrahim said the City awarded Joffe Switchboards CC a contract to supply the city with switchboards "a couple of years ago".

In the course of the contract, he said there had been disputes "as to what is paid to a contractor".

"The official following due process can't waive anything owed to the city. The matter is also in court," said Ebrahim

Regarding the death threat, Nielson said Peters' business associate "has attested" to a sworn affidavit in which she had stated that the death threats had been made.

The affidavit has been handed to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and a charge has been laid, he said.

Nielson said the affidavit allegedly stated that "If Joffe goes down, she (Peters) will take (the city official) with her. I (business associate) asked her what she meant and she said that she is going to ask her boyfriend (named) if he can find someone to kill (the city official)."

Peters was apparently attending a meeting yesterday (subs: Wed) afternoon and could not be reached for comment but Mandy Tembo, who had worked with Peters for four years, said although Peters got angry "sometimes" she would not make death threats.

"The City of Cape Town owes her money," said Tembo.

Asked to confirm if charges were laid, SAPS Western Cape spokesperson Lieutenant Andre Traut requested that questions be emailed to him so that he could investigate the matter but at the time of finalising this article no response had been forthcoming.

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